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Mind games

This morning's run crossed Narara Creek in Gosford.
(© WoollyMittens)

Even though I had an easy day yesterday, running a relatively flat 10km, I still wasn't looking forward to today's planned 36.5km Round the Bay road loop circling Brisbane Water.  The reasons probably included that I would be doing it solo, and that I'm over-familiar with the course, having clear memories of how hard the last 10km often is.  Of course, I could choose to run somewhere else, to get a change of scenery and a bit more motivation, but then I would feel I was giving in and choosing an easier option.  I often say that it is the sessions you don't like doing that are probably the ones you need.

The Spike Milligan Bridge was also crossed this morning.
(© WoollyMittens)

The tricks I employ to get me through a long tough solo run, will be familiar to many runners.  I start, these days, by carrying an iPod and listening to music, podcasts or the radio.  This helps, just a little, to distract me from thinking about how far I still have to go.  But the main technique to avoid focusing on the distance, is to set intermediate goals.  The Round the Bay course is very roughly an equilateral triangle, and I start at one corner.  The first objective is to complete the first side feeling comfortable.  The second objective is to complete the second side feeling like I have a little left in reserve.  Then comes the hard part.  By this time I'm very fatigued and just want it to be over.  I break up the third side into shorter and shorter sections with a milestone at the end of each - an intersection, top of a hill, or a landmark.  Having them get progressively shorter helps mentally because it takes less time to reach each milestone and I count them down to the finish.

Maitland Bay Road was part of this morning's run.
(© Maksym Kozlenko)

Of course, these mental tricks never really stop me thinking about how far and how long I still have to run, and the closer I get to the end, the more my focus changes to how great it will feel to stop and then walk the very leisurely one kilometre around the park at the finish.  Nothing beats that feeling of relief when I stop running, nor that sense of satisfaction I get as I stroll that warm-down kilometre knowing that I have achieved my goal, made a contribution to my near-term future fitness.......and that will be the last Round the Bay for a month or so because of other running plans.

My time this morning was about six minutes faster (3:18) than last week (3:24), which isn't a lot, but I did feel stronger, and if my right Achilles tendon and knee had behaved themselves, I would have been running faster in the last 12km.

Black Forest

Hiking near Titisee in the Black Forest in 2012.

Revisiting remote (from home) places, will often evoke memories of those earlier visits, even if scores of years later.  There are a number of places in the world where this has happened to me and one is the Black Forest in Germany, and Titisee, in particular.

I was most recently there in May of 2012, as a hiker traversing the Black Forest as part of a three-month trek, primarily in the Alps.  As I passed through, I thought fondly back to my two previous visits, the first as a teenager in the mid-1960s travelling with my family in a campervan, and the second in August of 1975 on another camping tour of Europe.  On this latter occasion, I was also supposedly in training for the Enschede Marathon just five days later, but had found it hard to get in any long training runs in the previous couple of months while travelling behind the Iron Curtain.

Looking over Titisee towards Feldberg in the far distance.

After setting up camp beside Lake Titisee, I decided that a long training run might be in order, and set out along forest trails to run to the top of Feldberg (1493m), the highest mountain in the Black Forest, and return, a distance of about 32km.  I don't remember exactly which route I used, but I do have memories of a dull overcast day, hilly terrain, and dark forbidding conifer forests with little undergrowth, ideal for scary fairy tales.  I also remember that the peak, which is above the treeline, accessible via road and had a large communications tower on top, was covered in cloud and seemed quite eerie with nobody about.  No views either, of course.

Crossing the line in the 1975 Enschede Marathon
(91st, 2:59).

I didn't hang around in the cold, and returned to Lake Titisee via the same route, reaching the campsite three hours later somewhat the worse for wear, ominously for the upcoming marathon.  In the race, I managed 91st place in 2:59, my worst marathon to date at the time, and resolved not to run another marathon without training properly.

After yesterday's tempo run, which left me with the usual sore right Achilles tendon, and some stiffness, I decided to just run an easy 10km today in the hope that I will be fresher for a long road run tomorrow.  I didn't get out until late morning when it was quite warm and felt lethargic and rough.  However, that's quite often the way when it's a bit warm and you didn't really want to go for a run anyway.