Head Check, Please.


On Wednesday Morning I got up bright and early, met some friends over at our place and we headed out to run the 35th annual Pacific Palisades 10k. It was a cool, drizzly, perfect race weather morning.

Race face ready.

The course takes a nice loop through Pacific Palisades and Will Rogers Park splitting off for the 5k and 10k course around Mile 2.5.  Gun went off and within a few short minutes, my head was in the wrong place. I didn’t want to be running. I knocked off the first mile at 7:42, quick, but not unheard of for the adrenaline/crowd weaving first mile.

The second mile was uphill so I pulled back my pace a bit to try to conserve – I hate hills, but I was still running strong. It was during mile 2 that things got worse. I am not sure what the heck was wrong with me, but I was not into it.  Not the not into it kind of feeling where you’re just having an off day, but the self-doubting I can’t do this kind of feeling. I’ve run 2 marathons and 4 half marathons in the last year – the fact that I was telling myself I could not run 6.2 miles is an outright lie.  Who lies to themselves? And believes it?

Apparently this girl.

On the 10k course is known as one of the hilliest 6.2 mile courses out there.

elevation map

Quite honestly I didn’t want to do it and I am pretty sure I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to make it.  Self Sabotage. So at the 5k/10k split, I went for the 5k and made a deal with myself that I’d just finish strong.

And I did…4th place in my age group and a sub-8 pace. Barely.

This may seem great on paper (and I am a smidge proud), but I’m also disappointed in myself.

  • Why am I all of a sudden doubting my performance?
  • Where is my confidence?
  • What happens to my head when I start to race? This isn’t the first race I’ve felt this way, it’s just the first race where I had the opportunity to bow out early and still finish a race (but not the race I intended to run).
  • I run really well solo or with a partner, but the minute you put me in an environment where there are thousands of other runners, why do I move into a space where I don’t feel good enough and thus tell myself I can’t do it.
  • I’ve made so much progress since my injuries three years ago – heck, I can run, but I am not comfortable being uncomfortable – pushing pace, running for time, running to finish strong.  My body can handle all of it, but why can’t my mind?
  • I’m also irritated about my 5k performance.  If I had gone into the race knowing I was only going to run the 5k, I would likely have finished faster (and maybe claim that 2nd or 3rd place in my age group – the 1st place was waaay faster).  I held back a bit on that second mile and I could have given it more if I knew it was the only hill on my course.

I have 3 months before my next race – and it’s a big one.  I have a sub-4 hour goal for Chicago Marathon.

I need some mental coaching.  Bring it. I am not going to accept my mental BS any longer.  I need to find the root of it, tackle it, make peace and move the heck on because I’m not planning on quitting running or racing anytime soon.  Anyone else been in this place?  Tips? Advice?  Articles?  Ideas? 

Anyway, after my pansy self bailed out on the 10k, I was able to snap some photos of the guys coming in. Strong, Hard and Focused.

Did you race on the 4th?

Ever needed to check your head?

{MF Dre}

PS – I rocked my c/o Zensah Team USA tie dye compression sleeves for the 4th…loved them!


11 thoughts on “Head Check, Please.

  1. Giiiirrrl. You rock. When u figure out how to quite those mental meanie thoughts please pass it along to me! Love seeing my IMWI buddy running w my BFF

  2. Girl. You weren’t kidding — you and I are in the EXACT same head space right now. What gives?? We are BOTH more than capable of this, MORE than capable. Yet we self-sabotage with these mind games and it WORKS…when it shouldn’t work. Lying to ourselves and believing it? NOT cool. Trusting ourselves and believing it? WAY cooler. we need to work on this. in it together, yeah??

  3. Oh yes, definitely have had many check your head (or get out of your darn head) moments. Kind of started having one this morning. I have to pull back, stop over-thinking and remember what I enjoy about running. I hate racing b/c I put so much pressure on myself. I just want it to be enjoyable.

  4. This may sound lame, but it happens. We aren’t 100% every race. They key is to not beat yourself up, but use it to fuel yourself for the next race. You have lots of time between now and then, so concentrate on your good workouts as they come. As you get closer to the race, start thinking about how mad/disappointed you were with yourself and believe you won’t let it happen again. You will pull out of it and be ready to rock next time!

  5. 5Ks/10Ks are the worst for this, in my opinion. They are so uncomfortable that within 1-2 miles, you are already questioning yourself.

    I’m not always successful, but I generally try to reason with myself when I start thinking those things. First, I say “this is supposed to feel shitty” and then second, when I feel said extreme shittiness, I try to objectively ask myself if I really AM pushing too hard, or if I’m just being a baby. And if it’s the former, I might ease up on the condition I pick it up in the last bit. Like Wed, I had freaking weird side stitches on both sides in mile 4!! I was like: WTF is this? So I let myself ease up until it subsided a little. Probably lost 10-15 seconds, but I knew I wasn’t just being irrational.

    Essentially, don’t take yourself too seriously when you get the “I’M GOING TO DIE” feeling.

  6. Jessica

    I remember reading a quote somewhere (can’t remember where) that went something like “running is 90 percent mental and the other 10 percent is, well, mental” and it really clicked for me. Especially when it comes to racing, building your mental muscle is just so important. You have to think of it that way – you are training your mind as much as you are your legs and your heart. It is an ongoing journey for me too. Some good books – “Running Within” and “Brain Training for Runners” are both awesome. You have to remember you have overcome SO much to just even be out there running at all! And you have to believe you are tough! Ryan Hall said the best way to become mentally tough is to believe you are mentall tough. I love that. Fake it til ya make it if you have to – whatever it takes – you are awesome and tough and strong – body mind and soul!


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