“Please remember you have to test yourself as long as you are not injuring yourself. Your mind has to be trained to go beyond what you believe it can.” -Coach Dror
I’ve written this post in my head a few times now and it only makes sense, since lately, I’ve been living in my head. I’ve been through this before. After an injury or an extended break from running, the mental side can be cumbersome and at times, tougher than the run itself.
I’ve noticed my thoughts are the worst when I know a hard effort is expected. I’ll get nervous before track and grumpy before a tempo. I’ll try to talk myself out of doing both. Hell, a week ago, I told the S.O. I wanted to go run on a treadmill instead because of rain. A treadmill! Can you believe that? I’m ashamed to write that down but he knew what I was doing and of course, after I stayed and had a great workout, he got to say, “I told you so.”
This week at track was different because I have been making progress and I’ve been telling myself to hang in there. I am my own worst enemy and when I showed up Tuesday and saw the workout I had to laugh. The workout was five by 1,200 with varying difficulty. Yup. My LEAST favorite distance on the track. The dreaded 1,200. I told myself that I’d just do my best and that’s all I could do. It’s really all any of us can do. I mean, I’m not trying for the Olympics here so no one will actually be devastated if one of those 1,200’s is a couple of seconds off.
The workout was tough. It was hot and humid out and my paces reflected that. A few were under the targeted pace, and a few were over. However, I mentally felt stronger than I have in a long while. I didn’t hide from this workout and I followed some good advice to take it one lap at a time. *Ahem, S.O.*
It’s funny because I had this post in the hopper before that track workout and immediately after it, as we all stood around talking about how tough it was coach Dror hit on some interesting stuff. When he mentioned wanting to pass any person who ran faster than he did, it struck a chord with me because I rarely feel that way about the pace group I run with at track. More often than not, I’m either thinking, “I hope they can help pull me along” or “I hope I we’re running the right pace.” I certainly think differently at a race. But then again, I usually look at people who pass me and think, “Are they in my age group?” and “Good for them.” I don’t know if this is right or wrong but it couldn’t hurt for me to be a little more competitive with anyone passing me regardless of their age or gender.
Ultimately, we/I have to be reminded that we do this for fun. And even though I can beat myself up before a workout, I always feel great afterward. All that being said, it is interesting to look and listen to where our minds go during tough times. I’ve used mantras before and I have one that always seems to help when I’m in a bad way. It’s super cheesy, but I’ll tell you what it is. Don’t laugh. I repeat the words, “Strong. Powerful. Tough.” I chose those words because I don’t ever really truly feel that way. Honestly. If I had my druthers, my mantra would be “Tired. Sweaty. Sucky.” Ha!
Now that I’ve laid out
Now that I’ve laid out
all some of my mental issues, what do you all suffer with mentally while running or racing? How do you quiet the negative talk in your mind? Do you even worry about any of this? I’m so interested in this topic. I’d love the feedback, so spill it.
I love this post! We are all our own worst enemies! When we don't hit those numbers it is hard! Do we ever give our selves enough credit when we surpass our expectations? Coming back from injury or any prolonged time off is hard, and I feel like I do that all too often! Its mentally challanging, but we need to remember, we did it before, we will do it again.
Or at least I hope becasue that is what is going to get me through this next marathon season!
speedwork is where i struggle the most too. I definitely get myself worked up with the idea that I can't do it…but every time I do I am amazed and so proud. I have been getting better over the last year with it, but I'm not a very competitive runner and wonder if that is part of it!
yup yup yup. I've never been to an organized track workout so I'm pretty sure fear would be the main thing getting me around those laps the first few times with deer in the headlight look. But in general, I am the same as you – always hoping that the person in front of me helps pull me along like there is some sort of invisble rope attached to me. Ya know like they do with prisoners behind the wagon? Merp merp.
Sadly, it doesn't always work that way.
The very first time I actually felt 'tough' (albeit pretty puke-y) was at the 10k this past March. I went in looking for that PR and my mindset was different than almost all my other races which were literally just "survival mode". Was the first race I really chased down the people in front or near me to pass them. I'm competetive, but mostly just with myself. I am my worst competition and I size myself up horribly… usually causing myself to underperform.
I need to archive this post, I don't think you have ever given me credit twice in blog before. Are you sure your feeling ok?
Great post Beth! I've definitely gotten in my head a few (thousand) times. I'm sure we all do. I love your mantra, it's not cheesy! I always repeat "Be in the moment" over and over again when I'm having a tough time to remind myself to enjoy it. You're absolutely right, we do this for us and it should feel fun.
Yeah, I think as we get older it gets really tough. How bad do you wan to hurt? You've been there, done that and you know what it feels like. My mantra is 'smooth and strong'. Just get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Ever since my big injury a few years ago and since my more recent one, my running mental state has been anything but good. I never go fast enough, I always compare myself to my previous self, and I am always criticizing my run.
true to all of it! the mental side of things can really mess you up. my crossfit gym posts the workouts on their site so you can check them out in advance. I find myself looking at them and then dreading it (or not even going) if it is going to be a tough one. I have had to stop looking at the site. I think my mantra would definitely be "sweating like a pig" in that heat 🙂
The mental game is so much of running! My trick is to run routes I haven't run for a while, so I don't know my pace till Runmeter (If I'm carrying the phone) tells me. Otherwise I obsess about reaching landmarks, and how I'm feeling.
The other piece that's difficult lately, as I'm recovering from overuse or something, is wondering if that's just a little niggle I can ignore, or if it's the first step towards a more serious problem.
Mine is just like your post – if I have to take a break – and my health forces me to do that a LOT – then coming back makes me grumpy. I have a hard time pushing myself back in, once I'm out of the routine. But it's a real battle with cognitive dissonance, because I KNOW I want to, and I KNOW I feel better afterwards. But sometimes I have to push myself really hard to jump back in.