Sucky Pacing and Terrible Form
Knowing how to pace yourself and running with good (actually just semi-decent) form are two key components to not only hitting PRs, but also being able to make it through a long run without feeling like you're dying. I am currently struggling with both, while trying to train for running 13.1 miles...sweet. Keep in mind that I also have a Garmin Forerunner 10 that will pace me as a run. So, pacing shouldn't be a problem, right? Wrong. So, wrong on so many levels. To start with, I am that crazy egocentric person who probably (aka most definitely) programmed my Garmin to pace me to run some unrealistically fast pace given the terrain and amount of times I am guaranteed to hit the panic button or run into quicksand on my outdoor runs. Obviously step one to fixing this problem would be to reset that goal pace. That's a simple enough fix (if I can actually remember how to do it).
Step two to fixing my pacing problem would be to actually pay attention when that damn thing beeps at me to notify me of whether I am ahead of pace, on pace, or behind pace. And that is going to take some serious work. Because, 1. I feel like constantly looking at my watch takes all the fun out of running and 2. When I'm really struggling during a run, the last thing I want to be reminded of is just how slow I am moving (because if I'm driving the struggle bus/on the pain train I know I'm going too slow). Another issue I often find myself dealing with in regards to pacing is starting out way, way too fast for the first several miles. LIKE RUNNING LIKE A CRAZY PERSON WHO IS BEING CHASED BY A SERIAL KILLER FAST. This is especially true when I am running downhill or have just hit the "panic button" (so let's get into exactly what that looks like).
Panic button. What is it? And why does Caitlyn constantly feel that need to hit it every single time she sees someone she knows (even if it just means seeing that person's vehicle and not the person themselves, jeeze paranoid much?)? All good questions. And of course I don't have all the answers (regarding this particular topic anyhow, ;)). But I have a few ideas of why this happens and how it actually affects my pace/form long after I have clumsly ran past said person(s) like this is my first run...ever. I think one reason I feel like I have to hit that panic button and attempt to run like a real "runner" is because I don't want whoever sees me out hitting the pavement to think, "Wow she clearly has no idea what the **** she is doing." Because that is most definitely true some days, but like I don't want people to know that. I want them to the think to themselves, "Wow she looks athletic AF." This was so, so true this morning. I went from dragging ass midway through a 7 mile run, to striding out and pushing the pace the minute I saw (saw as in someone I know's vehicle, because that is so scary!!!) a particular individual. Like I went from being in the zone and running semi-decently to running like my life depended on getting off that street ASAP. K. That makes no sense looking back on it, especially given the point at which I was at. But in the moment, I just needed to feel like I was correctly portraying the role of a real "runner." Even though I know that this person in particular is like the last person that would critique my running form or athletic ability in general.
Reason number two why I hit the panic button, is because I am struggling more so mentally than physically, and feeling like I won't be able to make it through my run without giving up (like crawling down the sidewalk giving up). Sometimes no matter how many positive mantras I repeat to myself or who I pictures at the finish line or running along beside me, I just can't get out of my head long enough to believe in myself and my capabilities as a runner. Naturally, I use these moments to freak the freak out (or having a "crap attack" as Tina Belcher from "Bob's Burgers would say) and tell myself that I am in way too much pain to continue running (or at least run with good form). And what do ya know, I got to deal with that too this morning. Right after I hit the panic button for the above reason. Obviously I was no longer driving the struggle bus at this point, the bus was dragging me behind it.
Oh and how could I not mention the third reason for hitting the panic button before my run even starts, my messed up crazy/insane/wtf/lol at my life dreams. I swear I have the most random anxiety filled dreams the night before my long runs. Like, no Caitlyn you're not going to be attacked by dogs, snakes, rabid animals, or whatever else. It's Belle freaking Plaine. The worst you'll have to deal with is shitty uneven sidewalks/roads and getting lost in the dark. That's it. You can handle it. Your pace is not, I repeat not determined by how shitty you felt running up that last hill or how self conscious you feel that someone MAY (I repeat may have seen you running).
So, running form, why is mine so terrible? Probably because I don't have big enough/strong enough arms to propel me forward and give my legs a little bit of a break. Or is it because my posture is absolute crap thanks to having scoliosis. Or is it because from is the first thing to go when I'm tired/in pain/hitting a mental wall. All of the above? Absolutely. After reading this far are you convinced I need to go to running school? Possibly. Would it be as hopeless as Spongebob trying to get his boating licences? Who knows. I guess at this point I should probably go a little more in depth about these issues and how I plan to address them (spoiler alert--I don't really have a scientific/fool proof plan).
The big/strong enough arms is sort of a joke, kind of. Idk. I'm working on it, although I feel like it's more of an issue of forgetting to use my arms the whole time I'm running, and not remembering until my legs are absolulte jello. Make sense. No? Great. Next, scoliosis. Well, can't exactly take out my magic wand and fix that one. I wish, but no. I have not gotten my letter from Hogwarts. Fingers are still crossed, obviously. So, the next best thing would be to do some extra upper body/back stretching pre-run. Also, I think it helps to pretend that you are pushing a stroller or something while running (full disclosure--got this idea from one of Kelly Robert's YT videos with her coach Josh). This helps me to mentally make sure my shoulders are back, my head is held high, and my arms are actually doing something. Lastly, and of course the hardest...that mental wall. It is so so so tough to get over that when you feel like crap mid run and are convinced that someone (probably whoever has that voodoo doll of you and is forcing you to make poor life decisions) has put quicksand on your route to slow you down. Well the jokes on them, because I know how to fall on my face and do some serious damage (I'm talking blood everywhere and scars that last a lifetime) without even trying. IT JUST HAPPENS, KIND OF LIKE MAGIC.
For me personally, I think overcoming the mental obstacles that I encounter while running, would fix like 80% of both my pacing and form issues. So, obviously instead of putting some random hot guy (T-Rhett, Dustin Lynch, Dierks Bentley, Channing Tatum, ect.) at the finish line, I need to focus on placing these people in one block intervals, so that way I am always motivated to not run like shit. K. If that seems like way to easy of a fix, it's because it is. I think a much better option would be to just focus on running the mile that I'm in or better yet, run like no one's watching. Run without fear or anxiety. Yeah, I like that option better (although it would be nice to have someone, literally, ANYONE on the route yelling motivational things at me or running with me).
Well I hope someone, somewhere learned something from this rather lengthy and rambling post. If anything, someone from my hometown will read this and think one of two things: 1. Honestly she's way crazier than I though and definitely a running addict; 2. I am going to make sure I yell at Caitlyn next time I see her out running, even if she looks like a hot mess (which is almost a 100% guarantee). So yeah, don't feel bad if your pace is complete shit and you have crappy form, cause I feel ya! Just take a step back and really think about what is really causing the issues and what you can tweak over time to be a better runner. I really don't have a crafty way to end this post. I just really love running all the miles, always.