Zoning right.

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I picked up Meb Keflezighi’s book “Meb For Mortals” at the end of last week, so if you’re wondering where I’ve been, there’s your answer.

For those of you not familiar with Meb, he’s an elite marathon runner, and Olympic silver medallist, and the winner of last years Boston Marathon, at the age of 38. If anyone is going to be an inspiration, it’s him. His book explained something to me very clearly on the first few pages – running a marathon takes good goals, commitment and hard work. Which seems kind of obvious, really.

But what he goes on to say is that of those three things, two are mental, and only one is physical.This is something that I’ve been struggling with;  I seem to have had a mental block that I can’t get past. I wrote about it before, how since I returned to running, I seem to have a voice in my head at times that tells me to stop, when all I really want to do is keep going.

Well, after reading Meb’s book, that voice has been silenced. And I’ve been set free.

I ran with Kasia on Friday night, only our regular four mile route, however trying a couple of tricks I’d picked up from Meb, I ran better and faster than I have in a long while. This was confirmed yesterday, on our eight mile route, something that defeated me a couple of weeks ago. Well not this time.

I completed the route in just over an hour (having first switched back to an older pair of running shoes, in an effort to control my blisters), and really gave everything out there on the course. I really couldn’t have run another step by the end of it.

Which is fine. That’s what it was for. But by using a couple of ideas I’d borrowed from the book, I was able to will myself around the course, able to silence the voice in my head that cries ‘stop’ every few minutes, AND find the breathing rhythm that has eluded me since I returned from 18 months out. That was probably the most satisfying part.

Once I’d found my breathing rhythm again, (exhaling hard every third step), I knew I could run as far and as fast as I needed to. I got into a comfortable stride, and stopped worrying about any internal or external force, just concentrated on my breathing (one, two, out, one two, out, switching between left and right feet with each exhale). In short, I was in the ‘zone’.

I felt the miles fall away, and only when I came to lap Kasia (our route involves several laps of a large park), did I falter. My concentration was broken, and I was no longer in the zone. I tried hard to get back into it – concentrating on my breathing again, but it was no good. Another lesson learned. I followed a different way home to Kasia, just so I could get back into the rhythm, and it worked. I concentrated on my breathing, and again, the road just melted past.

I had view all other runners in the park up until that point as someone I was racing against; and fought to catch each one and power past them toward my imaginary finish line, that was always half a lap away.

A good training session, all in all, and I rewarded myself with a Chia and Blueberry Rice Milk smoothie.

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