Watopia – The Land Of Mind Warriors

Tonight was a tough tempo session on Zwift, I’m around halfway through a half marathon training program. For those that don’t know what Zwift is take a read of my blog called Escape To Watopia . On Tuesday Zwift noticed an increase in my pace and as that means Zwift adjusts my training accordingly I knew it would be a tough one.

London Bound

I decided to go for the central London route, I quite enjoy that one and have actually run and cycled some of that route for real. It started of with a steady half mile warm up before going through two 1.5 mile segments and a 2 mile segment that took me to tempo pace and gradually went up in speed each segment followed by a quarter mile cooldown.

The first segment felt good, the second started to get very tough towards the end, with two miles to go my heart rate was up in the 170s, my max is 178 using the 220 minus your age equation. I decided it was sensible to bring it down a little, these training programs are good but you always need to remember that your body knows best, your mind however does not. Always listen to your body, not your mind.

I brought the treadmill speed down by a couple of miles an hour until I got my heart steady at below 160bpm and got my head together. Gradually I increased the speed to keep my heart rate at around the 165 to 170 mark.

Mind Games

I knew why I was struggling, there was the increase in pace Zwift had given me and I’d come home late from work, had dinner and then had a quick power nap on the sofa waking up not really wanting to run. My eyes were tired as I’d been sat at a PC all day working on coding and millions of rows of data, amazing how much it can tire you. Also I had a jacket potato and chilli for dinner, the first meat I had eaten for weeks but my wife’s homemade chilli is just too tempting! If you’ve seen the documentary on Netflix called Game Changers and the difference to your blood plasma on a meat diet versus a plant based diet you’ll know what was going through my mind!

With the pace now back up I had about 1.8 miles left to run, I settled into the pace and decided I was going to tough it out, I was not going to quit! I decided to start using a few methods I have learnt to keep me going. Firstly I started to look for the flashing pelican crossing lights in the distance and getting myself through to that next point. Yes I was on a treadmill and no I wasn’t hallucinating! I was running around a virtual course of London remember. Next I tried a meditation technique I learnt at a Buddhist Meditation Centre I visited after my breakdown at the end of 2018. It involves concentrating on nothing but your breathing, you are supposed to close your eyes but I don’t recommend that when running! Instead I pick a focus point, a picture on the wall or something like that is fine, try to keep away from data on the screen as it plays with your mind and you don’t switch off plus your head is pointing down which narrows your air ways. When you are zoned in on your focus point feel your breath going in an out of your body, take deep breaths, you will be anyway if running hard, but use the full capacity of your lungs. On the out breath image all the pain, all the negative thoughts and all the discomfort leaving your body with that breath. On the in breath image that you are breathing in bright white light, energy, great feeling and positive thoughts. OK it may seem a bit wacky and hippyfied (if that’s even a word) to some of you but try it, it works.

Nearing The End

Before I knew it there was just three quarters of a mile to go, at that point you start to feel you’ve got it and it gets a little easier on the mind, I managed to push a bit more and then with a quarter of a mile to go I pushed a little further again and got back up to target speed. That was it, it was over, I could wind the speed back down and get my heart rate down, it was now over 180!!!

Summing It Up

At the end of the run I was slightly disappointed because I hadn’t kept to target pace but I knew I had listened to my body and not my mind and that some of the reasons were possibly due to bad choices I made earlier in the day. After ending the run Zwift pinged up a notification that another increase in pace and been noted, the second in two runs! There was me thinking I hadn’t done that well but in fact I had, the mind games and listening to my body had worked. Possibly my new running shoes (New Balance 1080 v10) helped too, they do feel amazing! 

Remember, listen to your body, not your mind, play games with your mind and always be pleased you have tried your best. Get yourself on Zwift and become a Mind Warrior!

Happy running,

Gav.

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