Try again. If that fails, try again.

I did not have the best of week’s last week. Having received the news from my running coach that I had not followed my training schedule correctly and had therefore not improved as he would’ve liked sent me into a depressed spiral where I questioned my running and considered quitting.

I got blasted by my coach for even having thoughts of quitting. He said to me: Get your mind right!

Ironically, this is where I am lacking in “strength”. I am disciplined enough to train every day. I have even changed my diet, cutting out wheat and red meats. I drink enough water and have ensured I wear all the running gadgets one can buy. All the boxes are ticked. But getting up when I have fallen down is so difficult.

Previously, when it came to motivating myself and getting my head space right, I would sit quietly and repeat positive statements to myself. I would envisage myself running and completing races. I would fill my time with reading motivational running books. It would always be a very private and personal journey.

But there’s something I realised a few months ago when I started my blogging. When it comes to believing in my abilities, nothing helps me do that more than realising that others believe in me. In fact, spending time with people that build me up is exactly what I spent the week doing.

Dinner with a best friend (who meticulously read back to me every sentence from my coach’s email and analysed each comment with a fine tooth comb and turned each sentence into a positive statement – Marci, you mean the world to me), to the awesome run with an inspirational friend from Cape Town (Rogeema, you are too awesome for words) and an Iron Man (Morne) who surprised me with a visit, right down to the motivational tweets and caring comments on my blog telling me that quitting is not an option and that they believed in me.

There’s nothing that touched my heart more than realising that other people are so willing to share in my running pains and get me through the bad times.

I’m back up. I’m running.

Dear coach, let’s start again. I’m ready.

I didn’t listen. I thought I knew better. But I don’t.

One of the first instructions my running coach gave me was that I should not run any races until he tells me to. But as any runner will know, this is torture, especially when everyone around you is entering all of their favourite races.

So instead of listening to him, I entered and ran the Dischem 5km race in Bedfordview on Sunday morning. I thought, hey, it’s just a quick fun run. Surely it’s okay?

I expected to do brilliantly. I expected to shave minutes off my previous time. But I didn’t. In fact, as we drove home, I was hit by immense disappointment and irritation with myself. I had managed to run without stopping once. This was great. But I was slow and still running at 8 mins/km.So I phoned my coach, sheepishly apologising that I had “skelmpies” run a race behind his back, but also begging him for answers as to why I was not yet running faster. After he gave me a firm lecture, I finally understood exactly why he had given that instruction.

You see, running by myself on a quiet Sunday morning around my neighbourhood is a very different experience to running a race. Even if I try fool myself in to believing that it’s a “fun” run, it isn’t. And it wasn’t on Sunday.

In fact, I was pumped. I was nervous. My adrenaline was flowing. I was tense, anxious and excited. As the race started, I was already thinking I was going to do brilliantly. Thanks to a great new friend (Craig aka @biggestbossfan) who ensured I did not walk once, I landed up completing the race in 40 mins. Yip, 8 minutes per km!

I was gutted! All I could think of was what about all my speed work? What about all the extra effort of 3 weeks of training? I felt miserable and disappointed. I took my eye off the end goal and landed up feeling highly demotivated.

My coach was right. It’s a massive psychological knock which I took and doesn’t help my training much. All I could focus on after the race is that my training wasn’t helping and that I was always going to be a slow runner jogger and yet, this is so not true.

I guess the biggest lesson I’m learning from my coach is patience. I’m realising that the end goal is not Two Oceans (a race with so much hype it stresses me out tremendously).

The end goal is in fact listening to my body. Believing in my abilities and having the patience to believe that it will happen. Eventually. Because it will.

So I have my 2012 ASA number ready to be sewn on to my running kit and while I wait patiently for my first official run of the year, I will carry on training. I suspect that compared to last year, running in 2012 is going to be filled with many challenges and unexpected surprises of its own.