Showing posts with label mantras. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mantras. Show all posts

Monday, July 12, 2021

12 Things I Learned From My Worst Race

This is an updated version of a post published previously. With so many marathons taking place this fall and everyone training for them, I thought republishing this post would be helpful!

I can say without hesitation that my worst race ever was my first Chicago Marathon. I ran that race in 2011. That first marathon was SO BAD that I was ashamed to even tell anyone that I ran it. I was so disappointed in myself that I didn't feel like a real marathoner after I finished, even though I have the medal to prove that I crossed the finish line.

It took me 3 years to get up the courage to line up again and run the race I knew I had in me. I've run 3 marathons and many more half marathons since, but I still draw on my experience from that particular race to drive me through my training and races. In addition, the mental toughness I've developed since then has helped me push through my battle with RA, which is like an ultramarathon that won't quit. 

Since a lot of runners are gearing up to start training for fall marathons, I wanted to share some of the wisdom and experience I gained from that ill-fated marathon and my races since then. 

Dementia set in early on!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

You Are Stronger Than You Think

Last week I was at CrossFit, working on the weekly challenge. To improve grip strength, we had to hold all kinds of things for a total of 3 minutes. The weights of the items (plates, kettlebells, etc) were prescribed by the workout. But 53# kettlebells? I didn't think I could do it. I opted for 35# kettlebells and was standing with them when one of the other participants, a 60-something PT who has no filter, started ridiculing me for scaling the lift. I defended my choice. She kept at it and I started to get upset. She said to me; You are stronger than you think. Her son, who is one of the coaches, chimed in. He commented that I wasn't even struggling, that those 35# kettlebells were too light for me.

Fighting tears, my voice cracking, I told them to stop. Fine. I put down the 35# kettlebells and picked up the 53# pair. I held them one minute before I put them down to give my hands a rest. You held them for a minute? he said. See? You are stronger than you think. I finished the exercise, holding them for 2 consecutive minutes. When I was done, he and his mother congratulated me. I told them they were mean and the mood lightened.

Why did I get so upset? There's no crying at CrossFit, right? Why did I think I couldn't hold those kettlebells? Would I have pushed myself to lift heavier without that 'encouragement'? Am I holding back when I could be doing more?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Giving a Runner a Pep Talk (and a giveaway!)

This post contains an affiliate link.

It's no secret to my regular readers that running has not been fun for me the past couple of months. In fact, running has pretty much sucked for me. There it is. I've said it.

Since my speedy 10 miler in April, it's like the pod people came in the night and sucked all the endurance out of me. I mean, how else can I explain my precipitous decline in my running times?

All joking aside, my ego has really taken a hit. Fortunately, there are people in my world who get it and give me a lift when I needed it. Funny how that happens, right? I wanted to share some of the tidbits that I picked up this week.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

11 Race Day Running Hacks That Might Be a Game Changer

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for advice to make things easier for me on race morning. No matter how many races I've run, I still get those pre-race jitters. Anything that can make me feel well prepared is a good thing. Having run many races over the years, I've got a few tricks help me feel more relaxed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Staying the Course: 10 tips to Get You Through a Tough Run

Did you watch the US Olympic Marathon Trials last weekend? It's always inspiring to watch elite athletes run to the finish of a marathon. This year was particularly grueling because of the heat. Shalane Flanagan collapsed at the finish line. You could tell that she was struggling. Yet she got herself across that finish line. What can we learn from Shalane and other elites about staying the course during a tough race? Or a tough training run?

10 Tips to Get You Through a Tough Run

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 hoped knew it would get better.

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.
I don't HAVE to run. I GET to run. I'm so lucky that I get to do this, and I know it. Big Sur is a bucket list race for me, an adventure of a lifetime. As I ran, I also felt thankful that in spite of the brutal weather conditions, there was minimal snow on the ground, and that meant the forest preserve path was clear. I did most of my Chicago Marathon training on that path, and there's a lot of good juju on those trails.

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.

10 Tips to Get You Through a Tough Run
I also saw this. Shoes hanging from a tree. Any ideas about how or why they are there?
Breathe in strength, breathe out weakness. At mile 10, as I was reflecting on how this was a solid training run, I got a side stitch. Seriously? Well, I wasn't going to stop to walk it off. It was just too cold to slow down. I reminded myself to inhale for 3 and exhale on the side opposite of the stitch. Repeat and repeat. After about a mile, it finally went away.

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 Berra
What? 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?