Taking the Chimp for a Long Run

I’m sure I’m not alone in having moments whilst on a long run (Or any “Easy” run) where you think to yourself “This is a real struggle – how the hell can I run faster than this for a race?”

I’ve experienced it time and time and time again. On Sunday I was out on my 14 miler and after 5 miles I could really feel it in my legs. It was the sort of run where I was counting down every mile, praying to get to the end in one piece and having to talk myself out walking about once every 9 seconds.

My long run pacing for this training cycle is meant to be about 90s slower than my Half Marathon pace. Which I managed to just about cling on to. CLING being the operative word!

The other 8 out of 9 seconds I was constantly questioning “7:35 per mile?! I’ve got no chance!”. I felt really negative about it.

I totally ignored the fact that this was actually 90s faster than my long run pace I trained for the Paris marathon – a huge improvement.

I also ignored that this was the pace I completed the Paris Marathon in – my proudest achievement to date.

This is what Steve Peters would call listening to your Chimp. I’ve not read his book “The Chimp Paradox“, but plan on getting it soon after hearing so many positive things about it. Basically the chimp is the voice inside your head telling you that you can’t do something, that its all going wrong, that the wheels are falling off.

My chimp was bloody screaming at me on Sunday.

It’s only when I finished the run that I was able to add some perspective.

  • The pace is something I’d have been immensely impressed with only 6 months ago
  • I’m reaching the peak mileage of a training plan – I’m supposed to be feeling uncomfortable now
  • Trust in the taper, it’s designed to let your legs recover to give you that quicker pace
  • Your doing loads more elevation than you will in any race
  • You’ve gone through this before EVERY target race and it’s always been fine come the race

But it’s easier said than done! I have one more long run (15 miler in 2 weeks time) in my peak week and I’m tempted to print those five bullet points off and tape them to my arm to remind me!

How do you keep the chimp off your back?

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