Friday, March 16, 2012

Running Thoughts

I suppose the above title has a double meaning...thoughts running through one's mind while that person is running.... This has been a nice full week of running for me, beginning with my first ever 26km run of my life (that felt amazing!). Given that last week, I was just getting back into running again after a full week's rest due to injury, I had an extra bounce in my step and an added appreciation for being able to run. I made a point of making intentional note of some of my running thoughts this week, and my hope is that some of these thoughts regularly run through my mind - snippets of positive self-talk to help me through upcoming training runs that will indeed be grueling (the 29km and 32km runs that are pending) and race day itself.

Perhaps you've caught the very popular YouTube video that first aired months ago and went viral amongst runners' circles on Marathon Thoughts....It includes a lot of humorous moments that are oh so true:  the many moments where you want to give up because it feels so hard, to pushing through and discovering buried energy / potential / will power within that enables you to continue. If you haven't seen the video, I highly recommend you do.

What the video did (aside from make me chuckle a lot) was make me question how I will surpass those moments of wanting to give up, those moments where I wonder if I can make it. This is where running becomes so much about it being a mental sport as well as a physical - positive self-talk and the power of my will are going to be the deciding factors for me being able to keep moving when my legs want to stop. When I think about my recent 26km run, I had that feeling of wanting to stop at about the 22km point - I managed to push through and finish all 26km with a smile on my face (and not experience any soreness whatsoever after) by reminding myself of a few key things:
  • My previous long run was a 23km, and I finished that ok, so clearly I could at the very least, run 1 more km. Go at least that much further, then decide how you feel - likely it will be different by then (and it was).
  • Considering how far I'd just run, an extra 4km wasn't too far to go - a distance I could easily visualize and conquer in a short period of time.
  • What a feeling of accomplishment it would be to complete such a distance for the first time in my life, and doing so completely by myself without anyone pushing me or helping me along the way. If I finish, I would easily deserve a nice treat and relaxation after.
  • That the next long run I have to do will be 29km and then after that 32km (the latter being longest of the training runs). If I give up on a 26km, the 29km will just feel that much harder, both physically and mentally. And the 32km will appear insurmountable, let alone the 42.2km race. This training run was critical to finish - critical to everything. Finish time however isn't critical - just get through it, however long it takes.
  • It's important to learn how to push through the really hard runs because the marathon is going to be very hard and I need to know how to push through and overcome. All the very difficult parts of training are there to both adapt my body to be stronger and better conditioned for the race as well as to teach me how to deal with the very difficult moments that will be present on race day. Getting through this training run will build character - very important character. I need to build more character. I have oodles of character for overcoming life's challenges. I need to transfer that perseverance to my running.
With these things in mind, I now look at my upcoming 29km training run with confidence and excitement. And all throughout this week, the boost in confidence in completing my 26km run with a very easy recovery experience after, plus the feeling of appreciation for being over my injury and back to training hard, gave me an extra boost in my step, and extra positive thoughts. Here are a few of those thoughts:
  • How lucky I am to be alive, well, and with a healthy body. How lucky am I to be a woman, and a woman with a brain, a strong will, oozing with a healthy dose of confidence - a tough woman with a purpose who my awesome family and friends give a damn about.
  • Would I have ever guessed 3 or 4 years ago that I would be the lightest weight of my life now, be thought of as "athletic" by others, and be training for a marathon. Somehow, accidentally, while trying to turn my health around and lose a little weight, I lost a LOT of weight and became an athlete. Oops? I love happy accidents.
  • No matter what may have been on my mind prior to running that day, running is like hitting a reset button and allows me to go home feeling refreshed and like a new woman, ready to take on the next challenge and see everything with a clearer mind. Through running, I am new everyday. Perhaps this is why rest days are hard.
  • Our lives are overwhelmed by complexity in the day-to-day...running is a dose of simplicity: me and the road; a distance to travel on foot and an adventure ahead to make that distance one of exploration; no pressure to think about or decide upon anything of urgency, complexity, or importance; and being in tune with the most primal and basic part of me - the sound of my breathing. I remind myself to breathe deeply, smile, be aware of the graceful motion I'm in the midst of (even if it might not look as graceful as it feels) and enjoy something that's so simple, easy, and freeing.
I love to run:

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