I set a 5K PR today and I have my new running mantra to thank.
On Thursday, I set out for my usual 5-mile lunchtime loop run. I had done intervals the day before and wanted to take it easy to prep for my race this weekend, a 5K. So, I started the run around 9:04/mile pace and I was feeling pretty good.
It was an overcast day and it was one of those runs where I was able to just let my mind wander, not worry about the work waiting for me when I got back, and just enjoy the miles. My second mile pace dropped down to 8:37. Huh. I guess I’m feeling pretty good, I thought. I decided to try to just maintain the 8:30ish pace for the remainder of the run and finish feeling good and fresh for my race.
Third mile: 8:34/mile. Ok, not too far off the previous one but getting faster and still feeling good. Fourth mile: 8:24/mile. This mile gave me pause because I thought I was on my way to a pretty solid progression run so at that point I set the intention to finish strong and fast (hoping for a 7:?? for my fifth mile).
This is when I came up with my new run mantra- “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”
I wanted the 7:?? For my last mile. I really wanted it. So I channeled my inner Mary Cain, known for her incredible final kick, and kicked it in… “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”
When I finally went in for the last 200m of my run and heard the beep of my Garmin for mile 5, I looked down at my watch- 7:45/mile.
I was really proud of myself after this run and it truly taught me the importance of having a mantra that you can fall back on to help you kick it in during that last hard mile.
Saucon to Boston 5K
So today when I went to run the Saucon to Boston 5K, I told myself, if it starts to feel too hard and I’m beginning to feel too uncomfortable I’ll just remind myself of my mantra. Well, I used it today and it worked.
I went to the race with Megan and Kelsey. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with this race. It was local, we signed up last-minute, and it was very small but it meant a lot to me to be able to do a run dedicated to Boston and the victims of the bombings. It was a beautiful morning, a little warmer than I would’ve liked, but it just felt great to get outside with friends and the local running community.
We did an easy warmup mile and Megan told me if I wanted to PR she would pace me for the race. Secretly, I really wanted to set a new PR but I hadn’t really done my normal race day prep so I wasn’t sure if my body would cooperate. I was feeling pretty good on our warmup so I told Megan I was all in, let’s set this PR.
My previous 5K PR was set at the Boston Marathon B.A.A. 5K on April 14, the day before the Boston Marathon. My time there was 25:23, a 5K PR by more than 2 minutes. I knew my next PR wouldn’t be that big this time, but I really wanted to break the 25-minute mark.
This was a no-frills race- no chip time, about 100 people, no corrals- but I almost like those races better than the bigger ones. We lined up kind of close to the start and when the gun went off, Megan and I set off, dodging running strollers, people running with dogs, and little kids. Despite the obstacles, we were able to get into a break and ran the first mile in 7:56.
I wasn’t feeling 100 percent, my breathing was heavy, and my arms kept creeping up instead of staying in the optimal 90 degree position. But Megan, being the awesome pacer she was, kept reminding me to take a deep breathe and relax my arms. She said we’d run the next mile a little easier since we got a bit too excited at the start.
This was an out-and-back course on a gravel rail trail so when the turnaround point was in sight I could feel my body settle in- this is it. We kept trying to pick people off and Megan continued to remind me to keep my arms relaxed and ease my breathing. It all helped but by mile 3, I was starting to enter the pain zone. I had yet to look at my watch, I didn’t want to know where we were in the race or what my pace was, but at 2.58 miles, an 800 to go, I looked and saw we were on pace to PR. Megan yelled at me for looking but I feel like that’s when I was able to kick it into gear. I didn’t feel great but I reminded myself of my mantra: “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”
The finish line was in sight and Megan turned to me and told me to open up my stride and that it was “balls to the wall here on out.” I did as I was told and gunned it to the finish coming in at 24:59, squeaking just under my goal of breaking 25-minutes. I was ecstatic and so proud of myself! Was it fun? No, not really, I felt like crap most of the time. But I did it, thanks to Megan and my mantra.
We walked through the finishing chute grabbed our waters and went to pick up our shirts. Not too long after Kelsey joined us. She set a PR too of 25:50, nearly a 3-minute PR! Her race strategy was the keep us in sight for as long as she could, and it clearly worked.
I never knew the benefit of having a mantra because I never had my own. I tried to use other people’s mantras but I truly believe a mantra is something that can only be manifested on a really tough run. Mantras are so deeply personal in that respect, but I think that’s why they work, right? “Last mile, strong mile. Kick it in.”
What is your running mantra and how has it helped you?