Intimidation by Numbers

My last few runs for training have been….well….educational.  I have really started the process of trying to figure out what I can do to trust that I am a better running that I let myself realize.  If you read my last race recap, I mentioned I was going to talk more about the reflection I have been doing and what I realized when I was running.
I doubt myself during almost every race I run, the longer the race the less I tend to do this.  I know I can run slower and do that for an extended period of time no problem.  But running fast?  That is where I struggle.  Not because I can’t do it, not because I am untrained, but because it hurts and I give up mentally. 

At my race Saturday my leg hurt and so I wasn’t pushing hard.  But around mile 2, just like in every other 5k I have ran in the last year.  I wanted to quit.  I wanted to just stop running and take a break (which I didn’t actually do).  Why?  I wasn’t exhausted, my legs felt fine for the most part and my breathing wasn’t too labored.  So why do I do this?  Why do I want to give up?
I have come to realize, its a numbers game with me now.  Before and by that I mean pre-Garmin.  I never had this issue.  I didn’t care what pace I was running, I didn’t care if I felt uncomfortable, I didn’t care if I was exhausted when I finished a race.  Now, I am never exhausted when I finish, I care too much about pace and I let the numbers get to me.  I let them rule my race and my training runs for that matter!!  So I am out to knock these numbers out of my life. 
This process started last night.  My plan called for 3 miles with 6 – 100m strides.  I did these on a treadmill for a purpose and it is working.  Last week I ran my strides at around 7:30 pace with the fastest being around a 7:15 pace, however after each stride I would slow down to around 10 min/mile pace instead of keeping it at 9:31ish.  This week I did the run at 9:31 pace and the last mile at 9:22 pace with the first 3 strides at 7:31, 7:18 and 7:10 pace with recovery being 9:31 pace.  The last three strides we all 6:58 pace with recovery at 9:31/9:22 pace.  I felt like I was working but not like I was pushing too hard.  The 6:58 strides were comfortable, and I could tell that I still had a lot of speed left until I would be pushing too hard.  After the first one I really had to convince myself I could do more of them at that speed.  It was the 6…it was intimidating me.  Plus, I finished 50 seconds faster than I did this week than last and didn’t feel like I over did it.
I pushed myself and made it through them all and finished the run feeling great!!!  I loved it.  I know I can do more than I am letting myself believe.  On the way home the hubs and I talked about it, he made a great point.  He asked if I watch my Garmin when I run at races.  I said “yes”, he then said why don’t you not wear it at your next race.  Now to clarify, my hubs DOES NOT run, I mean not at all.  But he is realizing that I am seeing numbers and holding myself to them.  Not just letting myself run.  I need to not fear the numbers and not be intimidated.  I am not the same runner I was a year ago or even 6 months ago.  I am also going to make sure that at my next 5 or 10 k I do not watch/wear my Garmin.  For a half or full it makes sense.  I don’t want to bonk by going out too fast, so I need to watch my pace but the shorter races are going to be different from now on.  I am not going to be intimidated and I am going to let myself grow as a runner.  I am the only thing holding me back!
Have you had an A-HA moment?
What do you do to break through the hard moments?
Do you rely on your Garmin/GPS too much?


6 thoughts on “Intimidation by Numbers

  1. I like how you remind yourself that you always get there. Crazy how we have to actually do that in this sport.
    I do two different types of speed work each week. I do 400 or 800 repeats also, I just do strides once a week to keep my leg turnover higher.


  2. I have the same trouble as you. If I start to see improvements in time I get really hung up on numbers and a lot of the self-doubt and obsession creeps in. Also, about 2/3 through any race I start to feel like I want to quit. It's definitely a mental game. I'm glad the treadmill had been helping you!


  3. I think we all know how you feel. I've always thought it was harder to run a fast 5K than a slow, easy half/full marathon. Pace is way more intimidating to me than distance. I get through those mental rough patches during fast races by reminding myself, “you'll get there – you always do.” Because it's true. You always think you won't make it through and you always end up being wrong so this time won't be any different. I also get through it by distracting myself. I force myself not to think about it. Take my eyes off my Garmin and think about what I'll have for brunch later or something. It helps.

    As a sidenote, have you thought about increasing the length of your strides/intervals in speed work? Racing is all about speed endurance – not just hitting a fast pace but holding onto it. Slightly longer speed intervals help with this. I've found 400m repeats to be great training for shorter races, and 800m/1 mile repeats to be great for longer distance training. Or doing it by time, like 1 min on/1 min off, 2 min on/1 min off, etc etc. Give it a try! 🙂


  4. I bet you will knock your next race out of the park!

    I have to wear my Garmin for the opposite reason during short races.If I don't keep checking in with myself, I will just gradually let myself get slower and slower until I'm running at a comfortable pace and then I'm like, “oops” but it's too late!


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