The mind wanders a lot when you run. And I mean a lot. I finally completed a 13.1 mile run, which is a half-marathon, and I think I thought every thought there is to think in that 2 hours and 40 minutes of running!
The beginning was great. It was early in the morning and I was enjoying the weather, the quiet, and my ipod. Me and “Pretty Girl Rock” could probably be heard for miles around. (I was like, “My name is Big Ro, I’m so very, fly oh my its a little bit scary!) 🙂 But around mile 5, I could feel myself starting the count down to how many miles I had left. But 5 behind you and 8 in front is not all that encouraging! That’s when I figured out what mental strength was.
One thing I haven’t come across in any of my reading about running marathons is how much mental stamina it requires. I assumed, hey, if I want to be a runner, I need to train my body, my lungs and legs, to run long distances. So get out there and run! A lot! What I didn’t realize was that all that running wasn’t just training my body, it was also training my mind.
I think back to a specific 4 mile run when I first started training. I was on the last mile and was soooo tired that I really wanted to give up and stop running. I had almost convinced myself that I couldn’t finish, that It was too early in my training for me to be running that far.
I was literally steps away from stopping and then one of my favorite gospel songs came on my ipod. “The Light” by Ricky Dillard. I LOVE THAT SONG!! I immediately started singing and doing all the little dance moves he and the choir did when they perfomed it a few years ago on tv. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t doing my thing… Fo’ sho’ yo!! I was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t feel tired anymore. And before I knew it that weird little automated voice in my ipod was telling me that I had completed my run and could stop! Well I was so happy I had to jump back and kiss myself. (James Brown style.) 🙂
See, once I got my mind on something other than running and how tired I thought I was, I was able to finish. So by the time I got to the 13.1 mile run in my training, my mind had been trained for weeks already to endure long runs. So even when I wanted to stop, numerous times, I knew it wasn’t my body, it was my mind playing tricks on me, trying to convince me that I couldn’t endure. And I knew to just put my mind back to work.
If you ever come across a trainer at some gym that says you can train to run marathons without even running, don’t listen. Run! For real, run… Run the other way. Because what they are forgetting is the mental work needed to run distances. Yes, train your body. Train your legs, your core, your lungs. But in all thy training, train your mind so you’ll be able to physically AND mentally endure til the end.
So maybe use your runs to figure some stuff out. Figure out how to forgive someone who hurt you, figure out another way to cook chicken for dinner (chocolate chicken??), figure out what drug they’re sending through the tv to keep people watching American Idol. Just remember:
Don’t waste the time, train your mind! (I might put that on a t-shirt.)