Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Vermont 100: Mental Strategies

Hi all,
So my experience at the Vermont 100 last Saturday was so deep, spiritual, emotional, and memorable, it's hard to decide where to begin and where to end. Here's my first attempt:

When people hear I ran 100 miles last weekend in one day, they ask how I could do something like that. To start with, I've been running for 13 years now and this was my 4th 100 mile run. I've also trained all year for this race. So I was well-prepared. Included in my mental preparation was visualization and mantras. For a few nights before the race, I visualized the course as vividly as I could, and imagined in great detail completing my run perfectly with all the challenges and strategies that might come up. The mantras helped me on race day to stay focused and spiritually and emotionally grounded the whole day.

My mantras for the race were many, but simple. I have a tendency to start a race too fast, so one mantra that kept me well-paced was: The race starts at mile 50. I know, it's a strange statement to light and non-runners. My next mantra helped me during the second half of the race: Open up your stride. After running a few marathons, my legs and back tightened up so much that I had to constantly remind myself to take longer strides as opposed to the stiff shuffle my body wanted to do. And the course was all hills, so I had plenty of down hills to take advantage of and run faster. Now, in my first 100 mile race, I mentioned I used the mantra "right here, right now" to stay present and not worry about the impending pain and miles. In this second 100 mile race, I used that mantra but I also broke down the race into tens. I just worried about the 60s, or the 70s, and so on. That helped a lot to break up the race into achievable intermediate goals. I had on my person a list of Marshall Ulrich's Ten Commandments of Endurance. He taught these lessons to the Navy Seals before their Hell Week training and he wrote them into his book, Running on Empty. The ones that stuck with me were, "Suffering is okay", "Expect a journey and a battle", and "Don't dwell on the negative." Lastly, when I bonked during the 70s miles, I used a lesson from mindfulness that, "This too shall pass," --and it did.

To be continued!

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