Stay away from the dark side

Today was long run day.

The weather was perfect (apart from the headwind when we ran uphill), the group was great (who knew that “doily” was such a funny word to say repeatedly?), and the run was long.

We paced our run carefully to stay on track and finish comfortably. And for 34 km we did great. Amazing. There were creaks and groans and aches (I don’t like it when I *feel* great but my iliotibial (IT) band gives up at 30km — ouch!) but we all finished admirably. I have felt physically tired after weeks of increasing mileage and fighting a bit of a virus, so this run was a good confidence boost. I can still run long. We even managed to do some can-can dancing for about 30 seconds before inertia and the domino effect started to exert too much force on our stance.

Dancing at the finish.

This run was another mental hurdle to skip over. In our group of six only one of us has ever run a marathon. She was also the only one who has ever run farther than we ran today. So for the other 5 of us, today’s long run was our longest run ever. I’ve found that subtly steering my mind away from what hurts (even not talking about it) to a place where I draw on my own strengths can turn a run around.

Like practicing nutrition and hydration on training runs, you also need to practice mental strategies to figure out what works. Getting into a race situation without a coping plan is like wearing new shoes for the first time on race day. Generally it will probably be okay, but somewhere along the way you may encounter something unexpected that hurts the wrong way. The longer you run, the more the hurt.

What we focus on manifests itself as reality. Say something enough times and you start to believe it – regardless of whether it’s positive or bringing you down. Today (sitting at home in front of the computer, long run behind me) I feel more ready for this challenge. I am still scared, but I am looking forward to it. I am more of myself today. I showed myself that I am more, as we all did by completing this run.

Call it what you want; stubbornness, endurance, determination, guts. Deep down, I don’t know how to give up. [And it’s always worth in the end]. (Photo, caption: I ❤ to run.)

*When are you more? How do you show yourself you are more than you are being?

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5 thoughts on “Stay away from the dark side

  1. Awesome job on your longest run ever! That’s always a milestone. I’m so impressed with your mileage and the progress you’ve made. When it gets tough for me during a long run, I try to think about anything but the pain (or boredom, or fatigue). Sometimes I sing in my head, sometimes I talk, but usually I just hunker down and keep going. It’s tough.

    • Thanks for your congrats. It does seem like we’re getting up there now. Being out for 3 hours is something, and fun too.
      I think the key is figuring out what works for you — both mentally and strategically to trick your mind into going to a better place. We’ve all had runs where we’ve sunk into the dark side and it’s tough going to add that to an already demanding task.
      Sometimes just waiting for time to pass is all you can do. But it does, and we keep going.

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