Friday, June 8, 2012

The mental side of running




Anyone who tries to say that running is purely a physical exercise is wrong! There are days when the physical part of running is the easy part, just one foot in front of the other, right? The past few races I have gotten caught up in the mental side of everything and let it get the best of me.

Pacers, don't get me wrong I think they are great if you want someone else to run with so you can forget pacing, but they mess with my mind. I feel like I can't run my own race and get so caught up in pace groups and staying in front of numbers to the point that it frustrates me when it doesn't happen. This is wrong, but I feel like because of pacers everyone else knows how you are doing, whether good or bad. Without a pacer holding a big sign, you are on your own and running your own race.

Hills, although a big physical part here too, they are a huge mental game. Have you ever tried running up a big hill and looking at the top? It sucks, almost like convincing your body how big it truly is and that there is more to go. What about looking right in front of you and only focusing on the next step, it almost makes you feel that with each step you have reached the top.

Other runners, who doesn't silently compete with those around you. Whether it be in a race or just out running. At least for me I feel like when people (other runners, cars, bikes, etc) pass me I need to give that extra push no matter how I feel. During a race I can't be the only one who picks out others that I need to pass. I still remember my first 10 Mile race when I was a newer runner, there was a woman dressed as a pumpkin and I just kept telling myself "don't let the pumpkin beat you"

Spectators have great intentions and it is great to be cheered along the race, but please don't tell me I am almost done or have X miles left (especially when I haven't even hit the halfway point yet!). Personally I hate hearing looking good especially when I am struggling. Please just say go runners, way to go or my favorite is music and the great signs!

Always motivation
But then you have those runs that no matter what is happening physically your mind is refreshed and happy. These are the runs I am trying to focus on right now. I have no reason to be pushing and need to renew my love of running and remind myself the importance of listening to my body.

Yesterday I rediscovered the joy of early morning runs. I had forgotten how peaceful it is outside at 5am and running with the sunrise. The best part is not even realizing you are out running until you are already in the midst of the run and feeling great.
Sunrise from vacation last winter, so peaceful.
Or those days when you accomplish your best thinking on runs and solve some of your biggest issues while soaking in the outside world and blocking out the stress of reality. Or the runs with friends that are filled with talking and are over before you even realize you started. These are the days when you have won the mental game and the keys to hold on to during the tough mental runs. Running not only builds physical strength but mental toughness as well, as a runner I feel ready to deal with most of life's situations and can push through it all.

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8 comments:

  1. I feel the same way about the pacers, it throws me off. They usually start too fast for me, and then I feel like I'm struggling and get nervous about holding on.
    Great points about the mental side of running... so glad you've had some good early morning runs!

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    1. Good to hear I am not the only one who gets caught up with the pacers.

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  2. I needed to read this... Thank you! The last 2 races I did were horrible!! And it was mostly because of the mental part. I think I'm ready to try another race; I just signed up for a half-marathon!

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    1. Good luck with the next half. I does take a lot out of you when you have a bad mental race.

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  3. Holy cow, running is way more mental for me than physical. I know I can do it, but sometimes my self doubt gets in the way. So frustrating! In other news, I just ventured on the NASM website and printed off my syllabus and am freaking a bit. Yikes, I haven't studied in a while. Have you gotten your textbooks yet? I have a trainer that went through NASM and I will have to pick his brain next week when I see him.

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    1. I got my textbook about 2 days after I ordered (a few days ago) I haven't really looked at it much yet, focusing on the online course right now. Any tips you have gotten?

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  4. loved reading what blocks you! I think its interesting at how each of us have things that do this!

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    1. It is so helpful to realize these things and attempt to avoid them or at least try to think differently about them.

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