I am struggling a bit
with speedwork. I have developed a little “track anxiety”. Speedwork is fun when it’s easy and you hit the times you want. That hasn’t happened for me lately, I have struggled a bit on the track and now I have some sheer anxiety at the thought of speedwork. I finally broke down and reached out to coach. He encouraged me to visualize my track workout for the next day. I couldn’t do it. I got still, I saw myself warming up, doing the speedups and getting ready to do the first 800meter speed interval. I tried to visualize the pace range on my watch and staying in that pace zone...then I would see myself falling under pace by the end of the first lap (as I have done before), feel the anxiety, tensing up, getting slower, chest getting tight, heart racing, pushing harder, feeling like I’m dying…..and then lose the visual and start thinking about other things. I couldn’t get through the full 800 in my head. I could only visualize what I had experienced, trying to change it, making the past experience different.
Further instruction from coach, “focus on running by TIME, not pace. This is very Important”. I had never done this. I had always just looked at pace, making sure I was staying in a certain pace range, ie 6:10-6:20 for 800m. The anxiety went higher...I thought, “Shit, I’ve never done that before, I don’t think I can. I don’t know how to judge 800 meters in time...how do I make sure I hit 800m at 3:09? How do I know if I’m going too fast or not fast enough?” I didn’t trust that I could do it. I was now fairly terrified. And fairly mad that I was scared to run 800m..”of all the things to be afraid of...how stupid is that?!”. Then, coach says, “Flip your watch so you only see time..a stopwatch”. We talked more about how to visualize this. Coach also said, “AND, where we need to go with this and for the races and future is to help you realize: To be your best, you must be willing to fail…”
Oh and then the damn dam broke! I got mad. Out of nowhere I blurted out in the mirror in front of me “If I am harder on myself than anyone else then no one else can hurt me or blind side me. How do I let go of that?!”
I shocked even myself, Wha? Huh? Where the hell did that come from?! “ok Lori, you’ve done lost your mind”. My head swirling and coach still sending me emails..”ok I want you to see the 400 meter split time I gave you for the 800s, use the stop watch function and use this split to help you FEEL this effort…..’ He might as well have been speaking Japanese at this point...I was gone.
It became clear, I don’t want to do the speedwork, I don’t want to try to guage distance/time, I might fail. I want to be safe. But it wasn’t about speedwork, it was about life. If I am keeping myself safe, then I won’t get hurt. I am locking myself in this cage I’ve created so no one can hurt me...except me. It translates in my running…”If I am harder on myself than anyone else on the track, in my workouts…in life” A wise friend told me, “The more you are willing to hurt, the more free you become! Run free...live free!”. To get what you really want...to reach for your cool impossible, you have to be willing to fail.
So back to visualization. I tried again a few more times that evening to visualize the track workout. I could see the warmup as I had done many many times, I could see starting the first 800m and myself and how I felt and then I could feel it getting difficult and I tried to change the outcome that I knew in my head was coming. I couldn’t CHANGE what I had experienced previously (missing the target time/pace) into what I WANTED to see. Then I woke up trying to figure out why I couldn’t CHANGE my visualization...and it hit. Lori, you CANT change the past. Quit trying to take your past experience on the track, visualizing it, trying to change it. Let go and CREATE what you want to see. And blammo! I did it! I could visualize it! The whole damn thing! The times on my watch, the effort I wanted, all of it! When I let go of the past I could create what I wanted. And it clicked...in life...let go of the past to create what you want. Simple. You can’t change the past, converting it into something you want. Not possible, so quit trying Lori. Now, if that’s what it was all about….but nope… there’s more.
So now I get out on the track, still very very nervous, but in a much healthier sort of way. So here we go..20 min warm up...then a 400m at 1:34 to get pace and feel for what the 800 would be like. Then the first 800….I nailed it to the second! I hit the 400 mark right on cue and 800 mark. It was extremely difficult though and my legs were not spunky at all. I knew this is where the second part of the lesson may be coming in to play. On to 800m interval number 2. 200m in I am almost right on cue, but by 400 I was over 1:34. My legs were jello-y and my effort maxed. I could feel my pace fading and at 800 my time was over the goal by several seconds. I was ok though. I didn’t feel angry or frustrated. On to 800m number 3. Started out, by 400m I was over on time. My mantra, “focus” came in. I was focused on relaxed breathing, pushing my legs and my body as hard as I could without blowing up, focusing on making my form as efficient as possible, fast as possible. I was over again by several seconds. the 4th and 5th 800m intervals were similar.To get what you really want...you have to be willing to fail
The difference was that I was at peace throughout. Working to my best effort, best form, best mindset possible. I was willing to fail. After the second 800 interval I knew there was no way I was going to succeed at hitting the goal time, but the difference was, this time I was WILLING to fail. To reach as far and as hard as possible at that 3:09 800 meter target knowing I might...and likely would...fail. But if I didn’t reach like I was going to get it I would never know, So I reached with every 800 like I was going to get it.
Now I wish my thinking and my understanding of what is going on were all neat and in a nutshell and internal, but the reality is it’s not. I got a glimpse yesterday, and I write this to remind myself, so that it does becomes natural and internal.
A friend sent this in an email the other day and I think it pretty well sums it up....