Pain Brain

I wrote a previous post on my “Marathon Game Changers,” which outlined some of the mental tweaks I made that helped me [in some respects] have the marathon of my dreams.

Turns out, a lot of those mental tricks I learned don’t apply so well to shorter distances and faster paces.

You see, I’ve gotten really good at this semi-state of concentration that numbs the slight pain of marathon pace (that is, until you get to mile 21) and allows for deviation in focus momentarily away from running and towards, you know, unicorns, Phil Dunphy, Dance Moms, and so on and so forth.

While this works great for 3+ hours of running, a race that is less than a TV show (or two TV shows) can’t afford a lapse in concentration. Or so I’ve come to notice.

I’ve raced two 5Ks since the marathon and while the times have been fantastic for me, the mental state has not.

When the pain sets in (which is fairly early in the race in a 5K), I have gotten really good at convincing myself that I “do not care…I already achieved the goal I wanted (BQ)…who cares what I run in the [insert name here] 5k…do not care…should I just walk?…want.to.stop.” People pass me and, instead of it motivating me to speed up, it further bolsters my argument to myself that “I am fading and should slow down.”

My pain brain wants to quit and is a bit apathetic.

I also need to stop taking the first 800 meters out like there’s no tomorrow, but that’ a bit more easily fixable than my pain brain.

I’m racing a 10K tomorrow and trying some new mental tips and tricks I’ve gotten from friends. We’ll see how it goes.

I guess that’s the nice thing about sports – there is always a weakness to work on.

And, for the public record, I retract my broad statement that one of my running talents is an iron stomach. It deserves a caveat. I have an iron stomach for Gu during long runs and marathons. What I do not have an iron stomach for is short distance racing. I have a very compliant lower esophageal sphincter after pretty much every 5K finish line (ie I vomit).

TELL ME: HOW DO YOU HANDLE 5KS? 10KS?

Until next time…

[PS: This does not mean I don’t like 5Ks. I still do, but I just need to get a bit better at them. 🙂 #5krevolution lives!]

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6 thoughts on “Pain Brain

  1. I’m running three 5Ks this summer (one next weekend, one July 4th and one in mid-August). It’s going to be hot, thus painful, yet I’m hoping to PR in at least one of them. I handled the last one terribly and ran the first mile way too fast and died by the end. But the course ended up being short so I didn’t care that much in the end. Still: here’s hoping the next few go better!

  2. Uggghhh. I just ran a 10k last weekend, and I totally gave up after 5k. It was hot and humid, and so hard to run. I need to figure out how to get beyond my brain and just run the pace I am capable of. Good luck in your race. I am almost certain it will be another PR for you. Legs of an eagle.

  3. Good luck on your 10k! I as well have struggled with my 5k. I don’t know hard to push and once I get tired I think I have to let up.. Thus my times being bleh. I need to find a way to push through and not let the pain get to me

  4. First Dr. Meggie, that is the best picture of you I have ever seen. Second, pain is not something to overcome. Let us remember The rule if it hurts to do something, DON’T DO IT! Pain tells us that the patient has a problem. And, when pain goes away, what is wrong has been healed. Worst patients, physicians! Know it alls.

  5. 5Ks are such an interesting type of pain! I’ve only done one but am intrigued enough to want to do more. Now about 10Ks, I am still pretty much clueless as I’ve run a million but never actually had a good race. Ugh, they kill me. Hope you had a good race!

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