The last few weeks haven’t been the best in recent memory. Some of that is the weather; it’s hard to have any faith when you feel like you’re melting into the sidewalk. Weather doesn’t tend to rattle me for long though: almost everyone is dealing with it and it always gives way to training perfection by mid-September.
What IS rattling me is this creeping sense that things just aren’t going to pull together for me this year. The logical side of my brain tells me that it’s way too early to tell anything but the emotional part nags that I’m behind past years and certainly behind the markers that would predict the run I’m seeking in Philly. There are a few recent moments contributing heavily to that sense of doubt. The first is the Montpelier Mile. In a vacuum, it was a totally acceptable race run off very little specific training at peak mileage but I am struggling to let go of the fact that I a) missed my (arbitrary) time goal and b) got outstepped at the line. Since then, I’ve felt…deflated. Not long after the Mile, I had a horrible training week where running was painful and slow and my legs felt like they were filled with concrete. I slogged through my miles and ended up in tears after almost every run. My recent adaptation week helped me to feel better but as soon as I did, the heat settled in and all of my workouts have been effort rather than pace based. Even though I understand that effort is the way to go, it’s extremely hard to work at interval effort that turns out to be usual tempo pace (or slower). All of this is compounded by the fact that I went out on a huge, terrifying limb and took time off school to train and feel like I might be the world’s biggest failure if I don’t get a huge PR out of the effort.
There are plenty of factors that can explain my funk, both actual and perceived. I’m barely sleeping courtesy of third year and when I do sleep, I need to recover both from my workouts and from standing all day. I’m in a constant state of flux (the curse of third year: you’re always new somewhere and almost always in the way) and because everything is so new and unfamiliar, prone to microbursts of adrenaline every time a new situation crops up. Even my nutrition is suffering. The past two weeks on clinic were better because lunch breaks were built in but on other services, it’s “grab what you can, eat when you can” which is the enemy of effective fueling.
One of Will’s philosophies is that the process is the goal. That is, it’s more important to build day by day and week by week than to be hyperfocused on only the final goal. Self-doubt is diametrically opposed to the idea of process as the goal. Doubt is fixated on the end goal only. Trusting the process requires enormous faith in self and faith in coach. And the training sweet spot is somewhere right between the two, where you have enough doubt to stay hungry and humble and enough faith to persevere through a training cycle.
Since I started thinking about this post two weeks ago, I’ve actually made some progress towards the middle of the doubt/faith teeter totter. I’ve slowed down my non-workout runs to try to spare my legs, adjusted my expectations significantly before heading out for workouts and am trying to be more honest and open about my feelings of doubt, rather than bottling them up to manage on my own.
How do you ward off self-doubt? Which side of the teeter totter do you naturally fall on?