Wanting to stop in races

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12/08/2013 at 11:42

Half the battle in long distance races are the mind games and convincing your self not to stop or slow down. Yesterday I ran a 10mi race and after about 5mi I really thought about stopping; I pulled myself together a bit and didn't stop but did slow down and missed out on my target time for the race. Just wondering how you lot cope with the mental battles in these races when trying to maintain a pace whilst your body/head is saying "NO MORE!".

12/08/2013 at 11:46

You have to decide if you can live with being a quitter.  Quitters never win, hence they're losers.

12/08/2013 at 11:55

I think you need to tell everyone what your target is before the race rather than swanning round going 'might do a race on Sunday, don't know if I can be arsed yet'. Then you'd run it knowing you've got to impress us.

12/08/2013 at 12:41

You need to listen to 'Young the Giant' song 'My Body' about twenty times the night before a race and have the chorus buzzing around in your head.

I also always find that the second quarter and start of third quarter of any race (and a lot of training runs) is always the toughest mentally and its helpful just to recognise that as it is a good way to kid yourself that it is going to get easier!

12/08/2013 at 12:57

I failed the British Army medical, despite my mile and a half run time being down to 9.5 minutes. I find this fear of further failure to be a motivating factor. My missus often jokes that I put myself through Hell trying to prove a point that doesn't exist and that no-one but me cares about, but she's a bitch

Also, I love the knowledge that my body is capable of carrying itself over difficult terrain in a short period of time, it gives me a bit of an ego boost knowing how stronger and fitter I am than the dog-walkers and ramblers that I blast past on the trail, and how they would struggle to do what I can do.

All of which makes me sound like a real arrogant jerk.....I assure you i'm not (unless you're hogging the trail!)

12/08/2013 at 14:05
  • Visualise crossing the finish line and the celebrations associated with it.
  • If you feel like you need to slow down then agree with yourself that you will for a certain number of steps and then speed up again.
  • If really bad count in batches of 50 or 100 steps to keep your mind occupied.
  • Identify someone ahead of you that's going your speed and keep pace with them.  Or as works for me find someone ahead with a nice bum and keep following it!
  • Build a house in your head: lay the foundations, do the brick work etc.  Just as a distraction technique.
  • Run backwards or sideways for a while.  When you turn back it'll feel very different as your muscles will have stretched out differently.
  • Push your hips forward and straighten your posture, relax you shoulders and make sure you are swinging your arms well.  Posture effects out state.  If you are tired you end up hunching, so if you force yourself to straighten and open up you'll begin to feel fresher.


12/08/2013 at 14:41

thanks Mr B...I will try some of those, except for maybe the running backwards bit!

12/08/2013 at 14:42

I done a 31 miler yesterday in sandals. I have a blood blister on each of my heels covering all of it. I cannot walk very well today. But during the whole event it didn't cross my mind that I was going to quit. The reason for this is that I have done the distance before and I know I can do it. Also I have learned from experience how to race a 50k by doing them. I have a 56 miler next month. Never gone beyond a 50k and no doubt towards the end of that my brain will be screaming at me to stop, but I know I cant! Just because I can't. No other reason! But when I do this 56 miler I will learn from it and take it into another race perhaps a 100k. When I am doing the next 100k I will be thinking...well I've done this before etc

is the 10 miler the furthest you have run? Also setting your self times to beat if it was your first time at 10 miles is setting yourself up to struggle. It was the first time ever I set a time goal for myself yesterday but I cam short by 15 minutes, but it didn't bother me as i am not there for any other reason but to enjoy myself

I think it comes down to experience and knowing how to finish a race.

12/08/2013 at 15:13

Vicar - I don't think it's his first time, he's just a bit of a lazy b*****d.

12/08/2013 at 15:17
TheVicar wrote (see)

I done a 31 miler yesterday in sandals.

This may seem a bizarre question - but why did you run 31 miles in sandals? I think for the ultimate in discomfort flip flops is probably the way to go

12/08/2013 at 16:24

Vicar...I have ran up to marathon distance; and I normally am pretty good at keeping a constant pace and staying focused and  fighting these mental battles etc's just you know, you get faster, and you try and get PBs etc....but in the meantime you are getting older...and it's starting to hurt more and more and you start to question more and more why the hell you are doing all this...

This wasn't my A race, but I (quietly) thought I'd try and do the 10mi under 1 hour. After 5mi though I just thought that I really wanted to stop, and as it was a lap race I could easily quit and not have to walk far to the finish...I even thought I could pretend I'd ran the whole thing and just sit down somewhere. I could even cheat and win the thing! (maybe next time).

Anyway, I carried on....but I kind've gave up on the pace and the target by halfway. Not sure how much of all this is mental and how much is physical...bit of both I guess.

Also - very impressive running 31miles in sandals...but why 31miles? and why sandals??

12/08/2013 at 16:34

Why not 31 miles in sandals is the question I think you should both be asking, 15W & Skinny.

12/08/2013 at 16:35

It was a 50k and I wasn't going to win so I was first sandal finisher I got sod all to show for it only feet that look like they hav been chewed by a crocdile.

15West you were just having a bad day! Nothing up with that. If you were an elite athlete having a bad day they usually throw in the towel. But in saying that they probably didn't pay the astronomical entrance fees

Plus if I am in doubt during a run I just eat cake

12/08/2013 at 16:55

Not sure if it was a bad day as such..more likely my target goal was just too aggresive.

oh...and well done on your being the first sandal finisher! (also - are you really a vicar?).

Anyway, back to the original question - top tips for mind games during long distance running events the past I have just counted which seemed to help a bit.

Edited: 12/08/2013 at 16:55
12/08/2013 at 17:04

Reading what you wrote before I just don't think you really wanted your target enough - I ran a race recently, first one back after an injury and whilst I was running a PB I held back from puking over the line effort simply because when it started really hurting I knew deep down that I would run better in a few weeks so what was the point.

Mentally it's hard for your brain to overcome facts like that when all the other information heading its way is telling it to slow down.

12/08/2013 at 17:32

you may well be right SFF. I also might not be as fast as I think I am...

12/08/2013 at 17:44
15 West. I think you answered a bit of your question when you said that it wasn't your "A" race.
12/08/2013 at 20:45

My last half mara I spent most of the second half having to force myself to keep going when I wanted to stop and walk for a bit. I knew if I let myself walk once then I would stop again, and again etc. So I said, no, I'm not walking. But then a few mins later I'd find myself thinking, "I could walk..." and so the mental conversation happened again. I still think the only way I didn't stop and walk was by not letting myself the first time.

13/08/2013 at 10:05

Well I'm a trainee vicar lol

I find that the (I dont mean this in a derogatory way) shorter races that are quicker so like your 10k or your HM I do find that I am flagging a lot more because I am pushing myself and all the way through I am thinking stop. It takes a lot more out of me doing a HM than say a 50k. I think its because you run on your limits at a shorter race but longer stuff you do tend to hold off a bit. dunno

13/08/2013 at 10:35

When I want to walk in a race (or a training run, for that matter), I tell myself that I could walk but that it will just take longer to finish!

I have been known to bail out in multi-lap events, so I try to avoid them.

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