With just under 4 weeks to go to the Boston Marathon, I am in the peak of my training. Long runs have gotten longer, workouts have increased, my sleep needs are greater (and sporadic, due to the mental stress that creeps in) and, of course, I have greater caloric needs for maintaining my energy and aiding in recovery. So, obviously, this week I’m addressing the mental challenges of long distance running. They are a doozy!
Last Saturday was a hilly 18 mile training run. My dear friend (and accomplished running coach/mentor), Mark Bravo, always told me that hills are breaks for your legs. They give you a break from the pounding from a monotonous flat route. This positive spin on something so many runners dread, hills, has always stuck with me.
I can be my own worst enemy during training, especially during long runs. Negative thoughts (“my feet hurt, it’s too cold, it’s too hot, I’m tired, why do I do this, I hate running”) creep in and rob me of finding my rhythm as well as finishing the task at hand. So, I tried something that I did for the first time during the last marathon I ran in January.
Each mile I thought of someone for which I am grateful. Some people, such as my grandma and sister, were repeated. This little redirecting technique really helped me to focus on gratitude, silence the negative chatter in my mind, and pass the time. Hey, whatever works! I ended up running a much better, more grateful, joyful race!
So, for the next 4 weeks, I’m going to train my mind as much as my body and spirit. I encourage you to do the same in your daily lives. Find your edge and move past it. Leave whatever is bothering you out there on the road. Have faith in yourself and your abilities. We really can accomplish so much more than our minds lead us to believe!
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by John Bingham:
“Our running shoes are really erasers. Every step erases some past failure. Every mile brings us closer to a clean slate. Each foot strike rubs away a word, a look, or an event which led us to believe that success was beyond our grasp.”