In The Complete Book of Running for Women, Clarie Kowalchik has helpful advice on relaxation training. She cites sports psychologist Jerry Lynch, who says runners can learn to trigger relaxation in response to a physical cue. Lynch calls this “anchoring.”
You begin by relaxing. Lock yourself in a room, where the kids can’t find you, put on the ear defenders you wear when using the chainsaw, and focus on letting your muscles relax. As the tension and the cries of your children drift away, let calm and peaceful feelings take over. Lynch suggests repeating the word “relax,” so that when you begin to tense up during a race, your body will automatically respond to the word.
Personally, I’m uncomfortable repeating the word “relax,” like some 1970s lounge lizard. And I’m not too sure I’ll be listening to myself during the 26.2 mile run. So, I am taking Dr. Lynch’s other suggestion, by linking the relaxed state to a physical trigger.
Now before you picture me levitating in a locked room, let me tell you my method: I apply slight pressure to my thumbs with my first two fingers. I get to the relaxed state, not by chanting the word “relax,” but by sleeping. Any time I lay down to nap or to sleep, I put my fingers this way. It sounds strange, but it really works.
When I start to feel anything abnormal during my run, (tense shoulders, a cramp forming, or even my knee complaining), I do this “anchoring” with my fingers. I have not yet had a time when it did not work. I’m pretty sure doing this for hours upon end will wear off the effectiveness, so I’m careful to use my powers only in direst need.
If you see me running along the farm roads of Franconia, my face pink, hair sweaty, a scowl on my face, and my fingers clenched in an “O,” you’ll know what I’m doing: relaxing.
Overview: Sunday marked the end of my first week of training. I discovered through mapmyrun.com that my 4 mile route is actually 5 miles, and my 3 mile route is actually 4. It’s a good thing the weather forced me to do the treadmill last week; otherwise I would have been seriously overtraining.
Extra: On Sunday, I did 45 minutes of yoga, stretching, and core strength on the Wii fit. It sounds geeky, but I love the Wii. My personal trainer is always SO cheerful! I’m thinking at some point I may need real live people to train with.
Total Miles for the week: 19 supposed 21 actual
Height: still 5’9” (I think…)
Weight: 159.5 lbs
Shoe size: continues to lengthen. I bought 11.5s, which left the requisite thumb length in the toe for long-distance running. However, the big toe on my right foot is now just grazing the end of the shoe. If my foot keeps “growing,” I may have to buy a pair of size 12s for my right and 11.5s for my left. Anybody have the opposite problem?