Friday, August 5, 2011

Mental Vs. Physical Racing. Chocolate Espresso Cookies!

Because you really need a post workout photo of me
Self Talk Before Race: "Margot...give it all you've got. Go out slow, it should feel easy, and gradually push more and more until you kick some boot-ay".

Self Talk Near End of Race: "This sure is painful. Any particular reason you went out ridiculously fast again? Ya's ok that ten people just passed you just let'em go. I know you'll be mad later, but...for now this slowing down sure feels goooddd".

Self Talk After Race: "Goddangit! Why didn't you just push a little harder through that last mile! Don't listen to angry-near-end-of-race self!"

Topic of the day: The mental side of particular the mental aspect of being prepared to race.

There's a Pre quote where he said "I am going to work so that it's a pure guts race. In the end, if it is, I'm the only one that can win it". or even better his quote of "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." (Love him! He was a pretty interesting dude!)

These quotes are SO inspiring, both in running and in life, but how do ya get those guts and give it your best?
While I'm no authority (maybe the the opposite of one?), here's what helps me to feel ready:

1) Feeling Fast: Knowing you've done the training. Having done some confidence building kickass workout recently.
2) Feeling Mentally Rested: Whether this means you've gotten plenty of sleep lately, or just haven't done a hard run in a couple days, I think being pumped to race and ready to take it on plays a huge part. At least for me....
3) Having Competition or Inspiration: You pick what works for you. People are different and either being motivated by beating the some random reality TV star in front of you, or knowing your family is there to cheer you on (this helped me SO much in Boston) can help a ton.
I see all the time on blogs "I'm only competitive with myself". Screw that. If being competitive with the dude ahead of you helps you do your best, go for it.

Why write about this topic now?'s selfishly motivated, of course :).  I've got a 5k this weekend, and I'm feeling physically fast, but mentally so-so! Luckily, I've had a couple quality workouts this week that helped me feel more confident:

1) 5x1000m @ 6:11 Pace at 1.5% incline on the treadmill. 400 m rest (prolly like 3 minutes).
2) 12x200m @ about 41-42 seconds (except when I ran a 39 because there were a bunch of army dudes on the track that I couldn't help but race), 200 meter jog rest. Then I decided to do a mile at 5kish pace (ended up doing it at 6:38) to see if I could do it without straining. I did and the mile felt controlled. Big confidence booster.

What makes you feel mentally ready for a race (or even a workout)?

If all this running talk doesn't do it for you, perhaps a Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies recipe will!

I made these last night to send to my brother for his birthday. Great, except that his birthday was July 28th. Sister of the year award right here!
I got them off this blog, but made a couple changes based on the comments. Here's my version. I think they are pretty tasty, although I'm not 100% blown away. They're a little more "adult" (nothin' XXX rated about them) than the average cookie, and would be awesome with coffee.

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (I used super ground coffee. If you do this, make sure it's ground fine like instant coffee so it dissolves in the batter)
1 tsp vanilla
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I'd cut this in half and add walnuts next time)

Preheat oven to 350
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then, add eggs one at time. Add vanilla

In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder. Make sure ingredients are well combined.

Slowly add dry ingredients to butter / sugar mixture. Mix everything until the ingredients are fully combined, but do not overbeat. Stir in chocolate chips.

Cook on baking sheet @350F for for 15 minutes (blog says 10-12 but mine needed to cook longer, so this time varies).

Enjoy your super charged snack!


  1. I've had a post similar to this sitting in my drafts for forever... running is SUCH a mental sport and it sucks when you mentally aren't into it even though you physically are prepared... and when you mentally ARE into it and you physically can't take anymore.

    You're gonna kick @$$ this weekend though (totally not a bad word when you only use symbols btw), I'll be cheering for ya!

  2. I have to say that the only one I am competing with in all of my road races is MYSELF. It's me and my last PR. I really don't think about the others on the race course and I'm sure they aren't thinking about me. I agree with the mental aspect of running. I believe that if you put in the training then you just have to believe and push yourself! "Pain is temporary..."

    Good luck this weekend and enjoy it! That's also a key mental component. You're going to do great! :)

  3. Freaking awesome post! I am so so guilty of giving up at the end of the race and becoming mentally weak. It is so incredibly frustrating and I really want to work on building my mental toughness.

    Your workouts this week = awesome! Sub 20 is all yours, you've done the work so now go out there and run the race. All you need to get it now is confidence that you can do it!

  4. I can soooo relate to the ups and downs of the mental-race talk!!!

  5. I can't wait to see how fast you do this 5K.

    Yeah, I say I'm competitive only with myself, and that's true as far as the people I know, am friends with and train with sometimes....but DURING a race I do like to identify people around me (including random reality stars :^) ) to beat. I remember once outkicking a girl for 3rd place in a 5-mile race in my hometown. It was dramatic because the finish line was on a track. That felt GOOD.

  6. Running is so mental. I remember doing a race this year and feeling so mentally and physically ready for it. When I started running I was mentally there, but my body rebelled and I knew it was going to be a really tough day. . I'm not sure if being mentally and emotionally excited for the race Actually drained my energy. I remember another race where I was mentally checked out at the start line already wishing to be done or still in bed, and it ended up being a great race and a huge pr.
    These things are so unpredictable. I think by the time you show up to the race, the excitement will be there to give you the extra boost.

    I can't wait to hear how the 5k goes! Good luck!

  7. your first couple points about the self talk at the beginning, during and after a race are SO true! I think if I can go into a race "mentally calm" rather than my thoughts being all over the place, I feel much better!

  8. I always race in my head. I know that I have trained my best... given whatever circumstances are surrounding me at the time. When I was single and childless and held a meaningless job, I sure had a heck of a lot more to give to my training... and it showed in my races! Those are great quotes you shared. One of my favorites is... it's going to hurt... the pain is going to come... it doesn't hurt the elites any less... get to that pain point right away so that you aren't trying to dodge it... get there and then push past it... then you are free to work your own race. That's probably not a direct quote, but that is what my old rowing coach used to say to us. He also coached us in cross-country running.

    Go, go, go... you faster bunny :) Crush this mo fo. Take no prisoners.

  9. Wow! First of all...fantastic tips...thank you! And 2nd- I just bookmarked this post because I NEED to make those cookies.