How to handle running a personal worst…
On the morning of my event, everything was going so well, I’d set out a comfortable and pre-tested kit, had a reasonable night’s sleep and even restrained myself at the breakfast buffet. We arrived with plenty of time, the sun was shining and the course looked great. I wasn’t chasing a personal best, more of a “personal best for right now” which always feels so much more achievable.
After 36 loo stops, faffing with my hair, race number and any of other tiny detail I could find to distract myself with. We headed on a warm-up, my legs felt like led but in my new super improved mind-set it was going to be fine. My legs would soon be gliding through the miles like butter on hot toast, I would say like a gazelle but unlike me, they are elegant.
When the horn sounded and we all started to move, I eased into a slightly too fast but comfortable first mile. I knew that once we had all spaced out, I’d find my ideal pace and time would flutter away. Well, if only things were so simple, my ideal pace soon ended up being a fluctuation of run/walk/run slowly – Which is totally acceptable, but not part of the masterplan.
I suppose this should have been treated as a turning point, I should have been grateful for the simplicity of being able to move and focus on all the positives. But, why would I do that when I’m bloody brilliant at making myself cross and beating myself up? We should all strive to do what we’re good at right? Well, not in this situation but once you’ve found yourself in a funk, it can feel almost impossible to shake it off.
Of course, I finished the event, but I was fresh out of positive mantras, my feet were soaked in mud and I’d even lost all enthusiasm towards running, the event, my medal, anything really…
Then, a few days later I shook off my bad vibes and took myself on a run. Sure, it still felt tough but I dug deep and reminded myself, that this wasn’t going to last forever. I needed to stop using my pace as a marker for how successful the run was. So, instead, I focused on how I FELT, I looked at my surroundings, noticed how happy I was to be out with the fresh air or running with people I enjoy the company of.
Two weeks later, I woke up with a feeling of determination, I decided to run our local Park Run on feel, I’d focus on avoiding my watch and push a little harder than felt comfortable. I switched up my mindset, I decided that I was the only person that could label this run a failure or success. It was MY run, MY pace, MY body, and MY experience, I switched into battle mode and ran my fastest 5km in a year.
Confidence is just like a muscle, we need to keep working it to make it stronger and by building a level of personal confidence. We can not only live up to our own personal expectations of ourselves (note to self – Seriously, we should only focus on making ourselves happy). But handle our less successful situations along the way. I’m not as fast as my 2015/16 self and I’m finally confident I’ll eventually return to that pace. However, I have to keep in mind the bumps in the road I handled the first time around and that actually, the path to success is never easy.
P.s – If you’re looking for some “Run Happy” inspiration, I’m excited to announce I’ve joined the Brooks Run Happy Team. Read more here