Mind Games: Having selective memory

The Boston Marathon countdown has dwindled to 22 days.  It’s almost hard to believe that in just over 3 weeks, thousands will make that historic trek from Hopkinton to Boston!  But now that we are inside the month window, it’s something that I think about daily.  I find myself constantly replaying memories of last year on my runs: the bus ride, the warm up, walking to the start line, the official at the start line who pointed east and reminded me that ‘Bawston is that-a-way’, the deafening screams from the women of Wellesley, the crowded streets as you approached the city, and the feeling of strength I had over the last few miles of that race.  They are the kind of flashbacks that put a little pep in my step on easy runs.

There is no doubt that the experience I gained from last year has helped me prepare for this year’s race.  At this time a year ago, I was flying blind.  Having never been on the Boston course before, I had to rely solely on the help of others in order to prepare.  Luckily, the people I sought out and talked to provided tremendous insight.  But there’s no better teacher than experience.  The fact that I can replay those moments from last year in my head, or review my post-race notes, is a comforting feeling.

If you watch sports on tv, any sport really, it’s likely that you have heard commentators talk about an athlete’s ability to have a ‘short memory’.  This usually refers to an athlete having the confidence to focus on the present and the ability to forget about the bad play/outcome that just happened.  I’m not entirely sure the term ‘short memory’ accurately accounts for what takes place inside an athlete’s head.  I tend to think the best athlete’s have what I call ‘selective memory’ – it’s similar to the accusations your mom made of you at some point during your childhood, you know, the ‘selective hearing’ bit.

I’ll contend that an athlete who under-performs doesn’t necessarily forget about that moment or performance, but rather when it comes time to do the task again, they only envision themselves completing it successfully.  It’s not that they’ve forgotten about a previous mistake made – in fact, they probably remember it well enough to correct what didn’t work – rather they focus on what they’ve done in practice, or previous games, that allow them to be successful.  It’s this mindset that lends itself to peak performance.  So the next time you toe the line to race, or are just preparing to accomplish an important task in your life, consider the thoughts that run through your mind.  What are you choosing to remember?  Those thoughts have to be positive or you’re creating more work for yourself.

Below is the weekly training for March 24-30.  My first half of the week was lighter given the volume and intensity of workouts that I did Friday and Sunday of last week.  The workout I completed this morning was the main focus for the week, as it will be one of the last long-quality workouts I complete prior to April 21st.  The session was alternating 2-miles @ marathon pace, 2 miles :20-seconds slower than marathon pace for the middle 16 miles of a 21 mile run.

Cottage Grove Lake. Location of Sunday's long run.

Cottage Grove Lake. Location of Sunday’s long run.

I’ll be spending the upcoming week in California and my volume will start to slowly taper off as race day approaches.  However, the plan is to stick to some hard sessions for at least the next 10 days, which will include a 10-mile race at the SACTOWN10.

My final words of the week are dedicated to those of you who are running this year’s Boston Marathon: remember to not overdo it these next few weeks; you want to have your legs under you when you are standing on the start line.  Too many people try to squeeze in that unnecessary one last long-run or hard session and end up with tired legs on race day.

Fresh legs. Fresh mind. Fast times!

3/24-30 AM PM Total
Monday 45 mins S&C; 10 miles 6 miles 16
Tuesday 4.5 mile warmup. 16 x 400m, :45 rest. 3.5 mile cooldown. 12 miles total. 12
Wednesday 10 miles 6 miles 16
Thursday 12 miles 7 miles 19
Friday 4 mile warmup. 1 mile, 4 x 400m, 800, 4 x 400. 3 mile cooldown. 13 miles total. 7 miles 20
Saturday 10 miles 6 miles 16
Sunday 3 mile warmup. 16 miles (alternating 2 miles @ marathon pace, 2 miles :20 sec slower per mile). 2 mile cooldown. 21 miles. 21

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