The strongest athlete isn’t always the fastest or the most talented. The athletes who perform well time after time are those who can get into and stay in the pain cave or hurtbox. I personally prefer hurtbox, as it seems more structural and less dark and dreary. Regardless, one of my struggles this winter and spring has been with the hurtbox and my seeming inability to either get moving fast enough to get there or lack of drive to stay in it. The hurtbox isn’t everything; you have to have the foundation underneath it first. However, it can be the difference maker between first and second, the tick between a good performance and a great one.
I did one of my last workouts last Tuesday. The intention of the workout was to practice my gear change between marathon pace and tempo pace, which emulates effort over harder portions of the course and any surges that might happen later in the race. Before the workout, I had a strong talk with myself about the hurtbox and made a commitment to myself that no matter how bad I felt, I was doing my best to execute this workout. My times had to be wind adjusted, but I absolutely nailed it, running 6:36, 6:38, 6:37, 6:06, 6:04. I felt so in control of the workout that I had to resist the urge to fistpump upon its completion.
The real benefit of a hurtbox success isn’t the physiology, however, it’s the psychology. Yes, the workout was uncomfortable but I did it and I feel almost invincible now. I’m less scared of what a surge might feel like or how I will react. I’m getting really comfortable at both my planned marathon and tempo paces. I’m assured of my fitness.
Welcome to Race Week.