I had plenty of time to think about this on Sunday's long run. Thus far I haven't had to dip into my mental toughness regimen as I begin marathon prep, but last Sunday was the day that I had to dig deep. Let me set the stage: starting temp was 16F and the wind was blowing at 10-15mph. My PF was barking at me from my run the day before. As I headed out, within a mile, my right shin tightened up. I'm certain that it's related to my hobbling as I run out that PF pain in my left foot. I could hear my right foot flapping on the ground, and a walker even turned around as I approached. Hello, it's just me, gimpy runner! Don't judge. I
I stopped twice to stretch out my shin. This is when I pulled out my first mantra of the run. I relied on a couple of mantras to get through this painfully cold run. What do you do to keep going when your brain is telling you no?
Never judge a run by the first mile. Or two. Or three. Or four. Yes, because that is how long it took for my shin to loosen up on this tough run. I knew it would, once my PF calmed down (running stretches out the plantar fascia) and I settled into my stride. At mile 4, my leg felt loose and I smiled to myself as I watched my splits improve. I just didn't think it would take so long.
Keep it loose. Since I was hurting so much at the beginning of this run, I found myself tightening up. Unconsciously, I was clenching my fists. There was no way I was going to finish this run if I was all tensed up. I kept remembering what my childhood piano teacher used to tell me. She reminded me to play the piano as if I had an egg in each hand. I use this mental exercise a lot when I'm running. I don't want to break the eggs, so I keep my hands loose. Try it.
Eye on the prize. I had to remind myself why this run was so important. I can't quit in the middle of the Big Sur Marathon! I also thought about Kristina, from Live Love Laugh Run, and how I don't want to disappoint her. We plan on running this race together, and I sure as heck am not going to quit on her! That thought kept me moving.
Keep smiling. There were a few brave souls out there running and walking. The walkers were bundled up as if we were in the arctic circle. They all smiled at me and stiffly waved. Smiling really does lighten your step. I also smiled (but ran a little faster) because even though it was really cold, there were still a few cars backed into parking spots in the preserve. Of course, I'm not the Valentine these men are looking for.
|I also saw this. Shoes hanging from a tree. Any ideas about how or why they are there?|
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. These tough training runs are actually a good thing. They force me to deal with glitches and problems that are likely to come up during the marathon. I don't know about you but I don't like surprises and I certainly don't like surprises that are going to hold me back!
Head up, heart strong. I actually channeled my inner Shalane during this run. I pictured her slowing down at the end of her marathon yesterday, in obvious pain, yet never giving up. She never quit. Sure, she came in 3rd, but she's going to the freaking Olympics! I'm no Shalane Flanagan, but I'm a tough mother runner, and I can do this.
When you feel like quitting, remember why you started. I never believed that I couldn't do this run. But the conditions were so tough that I wanted to quit so many times. Yeah, it sucked. I really wanted to go home and get back under the covers. I won't lie. But then I'd glance down at my Garmin and see my pace, which made me smile. I actually picked up the pace on the back half of the run, because at that point I wasn't hurting. My legs felt great. That made me smile too.
There's pizza at home. I don't usually dial into thoughts about my post-run meal until the last mile or 2. But that's usually when I need the extra push to get home. My last mile of this run was my fastest, believe it or not. I was hungry. I was tired. I was cold. I couldn't feel my face. And I was ready to be done.
There's a lot of time to think on a long run. So make the most of it. Are you going to be negative and bring yourself down? Or are you going to make it positive? It isn't always easy to push through a tough run, but remember this:
"Baseball is 99% mental." -Yogi BerraWhat? Ok, running isn't baseball, but it's a great analogy. Do the work on the road and off. Keep your head in the game. Stay the course. You got this.
What do you tell yourself to stay focused and positive during a tough run? Any favorite mantras?
I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is stability. What's your take on this word?