Well guys, it’s official! I’m in taper for Grandmas Marathon… and yes, the weather stalking has already begun. 😉 I ended up doing a literal “run” for errands last night. I am pet sitting for some friends, so I ran to their place and home for a total of 20 miles. I was surprised that the second half of the run wasn’t pure torture given I took about a 20 minute break.
It was also my first time running around the lakes, and so excited to enjoy these views again:
Really need to make my way that direction more often (although, it’s not that hilly this way, so that’s one downfall).
So, as I get ready for my next marathon, one of the things on my mind is of course my mental running strength. It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with this and I honestly feel like this is the one thing that stands between me and a major PR in a marathon because I know that I have the endurance.
I have a few theories why mental strength has always been a battle for me. I used to have a negative force in my life that did a pretty good job of bringing the negativity exactly where I had doubts and a lack of confidence, and somehow, that negativity weaseled into my head and has been a little difficult to get out.
The first race where I actually felt like I finally broke through from a mental running strength perspective? The Door County Half Marathon.
I was hurting, I was miserable (remember I was even threatening to retire about halfway through?) and not having a good time. At some point, I realized that it was going to continue to hurt no matter what I did — if I slowed down, it would lengthen the misery (yes, I promise, I really do love this sport), but if I sped up, it was likely to hurt a little bit more.
But I learned to let go.
I cut my mind off from my body, telling myself that it was going to hurt no matter what, but my lungs and endurance could overpower my legs and carry me through. It’s nothing close to a mantra that I’ve used in my life, and a little too long for one, but it seemed to do the trick.
I think that’s one of the first races where I actually had some miles that were faster than the first part of the race… I mean, I was putting down some 7:32s towards the end, which after hitting 8s for a few miles, is something I’ve never been able to pull together towards the end of a race.
For years, I’ve had people share their tips, their mantras, their everything with me to learn how to overcome this struggle, and although I don’t think I have it *completely* figured out (tbd in a few weeks), I’m in a much better spot than where I was. It’s a combination of trusting yourself, and letting go. Which, sounds very similar to some of the most important things to do in life too… or at least what I’ve learned over the past few years.
So, while I don’t have a list of tips to share with you or a “this is what you need to do,” all I can say is if you want to figure out your mental running strength, you need to see what’s holding you back. For me, it wasn’t the idea of pain… but more so, of being able to do it. And being able to disconnect pain from my strength, it made it that much easier to make it happen.
The true test will be the marathon. I tend to break down (case in point: this year’s Boston Marathon) and just given the distance and complexity of 26.2 miles, it makes it much harder to bounce back. <– is this my negative self starting to work it’s magic already?!
What helped you build your mental running strength? Any tips for people searching for it?
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