Lessons Learned from CMHM

"The five S's of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit." - Ken Doherty.

I'm so glad I'm not mad at running after my sub-par performance in the half on Saturday. I'm mad at myself because I KNOW BETTER than to start out too fast like that and I know how my body responds to heat and humidity--it slows down! Plus, did the two or three weeks of bad runs prior to the race not give me a clue that I was going to have to take it slower than I'd like to?

Some lessons I've learned from this experience (because if you don't learn from your mistakes, what's the point??)

1. Run one race at a time. Don't focus on past experiences--- you have to run the course you're on, in the conditions you are dealt, at your level of fitness that day.

2. Listen to your body. At mile 6.8, I got lightheaded and a little dizzy. That is when I really let go of expectations and dialed it back. Last year someone died on the course on a hot day. I didn't want to take any chances. Before that point in the race, I was pushing along even though I wasn't feeling it. I was checking every split on my watch and berating myself when the mile 4 and 5 splits were too slow. After mile 5, I never looked at another split. I did, however, see at least 6 people on stretchers or receiving medical help.

3. You can still be excited about running even after a bad race. YAY! Especially when you just got new shoes. I'm looking forward to a 5K in a week and my next half-marathon!

4. Everyone has bad days. I saw an interview with elite Deena Kastor on www.Runnersworld.com from this Sunday's London Marathon and she had a terrible day, too. It said,

"Kastor's 18th place 2:36:20 at the Virgin London Marathon was the slowest 26.2-miler she'd ever completed.... "I did not have it today and I have no idea why." I feel ya, Deena! And yes, that makes me feel better. (Even thought her MARATHON time is only 15-16 minutes off my half-marathon time!)

5. It's all relative. I still finished in the top half of Country Music Half-Marathon finishers and the top 1/3 of women. (Lots of walkers, apparently!) My half-marathon times now range from 2:09:41 to 2:20:56. That's not a huge range. I was only about 10 minutes off my game on the most difficult half-marathon course I've ever run on a very humid day. (When I ran it 2 years ago as my first half, it was easier. They changed it to make it more scenic, adding about 3 more hills at the beginning.)

6. Running in the middle of the pack doesn't make me less of a coach. I think coaching is more about being an encourager, a teacher, and knowledgeable on how to take a runner from point A. to point B. It's not about being the fastest runner. I teach beginners who need the structure of a training group and a training schedule, not an elite racing team. That would require a different kind of coach!

Ok, I'm done wallowing and with all the self-analysis! Is it just me, or is this how everyone works through a bad race??? :-)


Kelly said…
I agree...anyone can have an off day, and it doesn't make you any less of a "runner"! No matter what, be proud that you completed another race! ;) And YES, you are completely right, running in the middle of the pack doesn't make you any less of a coach! Actually, I think it make you more relatable! Congrats on finishing another race!
lawmonkey13 said…
Hey Donna,
You ain't the only one that had a craptastic race that day. Maybe Nashville in April is just too hot to run a really strong race. I don't know. I think that I put too much stress on myself to do well and that put me on the pooper end of the race. I'm glad you've rallied though, because like you, I'm getting ready for my next one! I refuse to be beaten. Keep the faith, sister!
Lisa said…
I think you are a better coach because you can relate to your runners. I am not sure I would want some elite athlete coaching me. They usually have genetics on their side (not to mention unlimited time). The way you use your less-than-stellar performances to help you move forward is a great lesson for any runner.

2:26 is Deena Kastor's worst marathon time???? That is a time I could never achieve... EVER. But it is nice to know that runners like her experience those bad days for no reason.

I think you did better than you think in that race. Running 13.1 miles is nothing to sneeze at. Very few people can say they can run that far on a given day.

My advice after a race like that? Use it to learn (like you did) and move on.

I am glad you are still enthusiastic about running. :-)