The Mental Demons - Difference between 2 races.


31 Jul
All in the mind or is it 

I was recently asked a question about the difference in the way two marathons felt, mentally that is. As in, did I think psychologically was there a difference.  

A bit of info on the two runs. 

The first Marathon was the Solway Coast Marathon on Sunday 21st July. 
A new Marathon on the calendar and one that is virtually on our doorstep. It is also flat, very very flat. Therefore I decided I should train for a Marathon PB attempt.  My only worry was it was in July,  which means heat and I dislike the heat. A plan was drawn up an I ticked the runs off till I got to the start line. I train to Heart Rate and ran it to Heart Rate and I failed in getting a new PB by 1:59 seconds. It was still a very tough run. 

The 2nd Marathon was a week later on the 28th July, it was day 3 of the Time2Run events, The Scorcher 10 in 10. A 6 lap run with a few undulations. This time about an hour and a half drive away, though we got there the night before. I had been doing short recovery runs throughout the week since the previous Sunday's run. I stood on this start line just 7 days after the last with no expectations whatsoever.  I had decided I would go out with the same tactics as last weeks run and see what happens. I knocked 7 mins & 19 seconds of my previous best giving me a new PB of 3:36:12 & 1st place. ( elites must of been on holiday).

The actual question I was asked was this 

Looking back now, and analysing it, other than the weather being on your side and a good course, do you think you were more relaxed than last week?

So, let me try and analyse it. 

For the first Marathon my plan had been 9 weeks long. All on road and with speedier sessions and all trained to Heart rate. The plan had gone very well and all the signs looked good. My only worry was being the heat. But, I also made no secret of the fact it was a PB attempt.  Everyone who knows me knew it was a PB attempt.  I don't go around saying or thinking I'm GOING to beat my previous time, I just get on with the plan. On the morning of the race I stood on the start line in a pretty relaxed state. I know I've trained and I know what I need to do. I'm not a maverick runner, I stick firmly to my plan and to my planned race tactics. It was very hot which was the only negative on that start line. After starting, immediately my Heart Rate was high, far to high for my liking. Now, was that down to the heat or subconsciously was the fact that this was the end of the plan race, one I've trained for, and no matter how relaxed I thought I was, is there something hiding away in the head making you nervous, even though you dont feel nerves. 
I put in as good a run as I could, yes it was hot but I carried and had plenty of water, fuelling was the same as always and there was no niggles, heart rate was high throughout and I failed in my mission. 
I don't beat myself up over these things and am not an habitual PB chaser, just do it occasionally to help vary the running. Either way, move onto the next thing. 

The 7 days after this run I did 4 recovery runs, none over 6 miles and all in a very low Heart Rate zone. My quads ached a bit but nothing too bad. 

Second run, 7 days later. 

This run was only added because my wife was doing the Sunday & Monday at this 10 in 10 event so I thought, why not go and plod my way around. Probably still on achey legs from the previous Sunday. The Wednesday before though, I thought, why not go with the same tactics and just see what happens.  Run to the same Heart Rate tactics as the PB attempt,  see how long I last for. I had wrote on my hand times for 5, 10, HM, 17, 20 & 23 miles. The times I need to be at if I were heading for a PB ( I did the same on the actual PB attempt). If at anytime I was way behind or if the legs had nothing to give then I would immediately back off and enjoy the plod.  
I stood on the start line, relaxed, felt the same as 7 days previous.  Big difference this time though, there was no sun, had been pouring down but stopped as we started, it stayed cloudy and cool throughout.  I started the run exactly as I did the PB attempt.  This time the Heart Rate was not high to begin with. It was a 6 lap run so decided to take each lap as it came. All the planets were aligned and I put in my best ever run. 3:36:12, knocking 7:19 off my time. Same fuelling.  

You can read the race report here
 https://pukiesrunning.site123.me/events-reports/scorcher-10-in-10-day-3


So, help me analyse it.

Run 1
9 week plan, leading to a PB attempt. Very hot weather.  Failed. 

Run 2
7 days later, no expectations whatsoever. Perfect weather conditions & PB 


All the kit and pre Marathon fuelling etc was exactly the same.


Does telling yourself your training for a PB affect the outcome ? 
Even though your as relaxed as can be on race day. Is it subconsciously playing on your mind. 

Can you trick your brain throughout a plan and tell yourself there's nothing on the end of plan race or will it always be there, even if you think it's not ?.

Was this a mental thing or simply down to the weather ?

What are your thoughts on this 








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