from Neely Runs
In the running scene, my race at the Philly RnR Half Marathon is arguably my best performance on the roads to date. It puts me as one of 11 American women to ever break the 70min barrier. While I am thrilled with the outcome, I want to back track to the behind the scenes work that come with such feats. The things that have brought me to where I am today, a newly sponsored Adidas Running athlete. And I am not just talking about this season… no, I am talking about the 13 years of running and learning and growing as an athlete and person that allowed me to arrive at this earned level.
One of the most common things I get asked… “What do you think about while running?” I have so many thoughts, no, I don’t get bored while racing. I am hyper focused, at least I strive to be. In HS I learned how to count my strides in tune with my breathing pattern. At first, I had to practice while walking around during the day, then focus 100% while running easy, but years of practice and I now will count almost the entire way during a race. This keeps me gauging effort, focused, and allows me to tune out distraction. The term “in flow” is what it’s called in Sports Psychology, and when I nail a race, it is often because my flow was really strong.
When I think about my preparation, obviously, training smart is key. My dad really held me back in HS, doing max weeks of 50miles as a senior, taking a day off each week, and having a balance of life and running so I developed as a human being. In college it was a steady progression but even then I never ran a 10k until I was a pro. The focus was always long term. But when does the focus switch to giving it all? Well, for me, not yet. As a coach and as an athlete, training where I am at, not where I want to be, allows me to stay healthy, motivated, and run well when I have the opportunity to race. Then we adjust as fitness improves to meet the previous race result effort. (See my Training Log for the past 2 months to see this strategy in action).
Recovery, the word that is illusive to many type A personality people. I run slower now than I ever did in college. I let my body recover, and as a result, the hard workouts sink in, and I get faster and feel better, and can show up for workout days ready to go. This is one of the biggest things I have learned as a pro and I stress this to my athletes all the time. It is so easy to get caught up in the flow and think you have to hammer every day to see progress but I have yet to see this actually pay off for anyone.
I am taking a break, letting my body heal from the race and a solid season of 4th at Falmouth, 4th at the 20k USA Champs, 2nd at the 10mi USA Champs, and 2nd at the Philly RnR Half. Lots to celebrate. The mental break involves late nights, a little hard cider, lots of sugary things, and no running/core/lifting. Letting the system reset and then the next training segment begins in my preparation for the Olympic Trials Marathon, and you can bet I will be utilizing everything I have learned to give myself the best shot at a debut I can be proud of.
There are no guarantees, I have been fortunate to stay healthy and see steady progression the past 1.5 years. I know all too well how frustrating set backs, injuries, illness, and bad luck can be. I am optimistic, I still embrace each day and every opportunity I have to run and represent those who support me my doing what I love, but I know the learning process never ends and not all roads are smooth. SO for now, it’s time to control what I can and Get Running.