While logging my last run for last week, I wrote - “I’m starting to understand the difficulty of a long run on the day after a hard/long run. Was just looking back at some of the older similar runs – almost all of them have some kind of issue/whining!!” I know that the hard back to back runs is mental training, for my mind to go the distance along with my body. And I hope I am (re)learning mental toughness from these back to back runs, especially the ones I am running alone when tired.
But as I also observed myself – almost all my long runs this past month (when the training has started to get a little serious) had some kind of whining.
Oct 18th, 2hr run (after 2 x 2 mile repeats on the day before) – GI issues, emotional baggage. Felt like 4 hrs instead.
Oct 12th, 1.5hr run (after 2.5hrs on the day before) – I ran into a friend while running and I wished I hadn’t. I was just tired and whining waiting for the 1.5 hours to be done. And I was not satisfied when done, something was missing and there was a disconnect.
October 4th, 2hr trail run – There was a lot of smiling and laughing, but there was crying too. “The wind is howling like the swirling storm inside“. That was the theme of the run.
Some of these were genuine issues. And sometimes runs are the cathartic and we need it to release much more than just sweat.
But what is not acceptable is making it a pattern of whining!
So, apart from needing to complete all my runs, I had one main focus this week – to go into each run cheerful and stay cheerful all throughout.
I didn’t say anything about this to anyone. It seemed such a basic, elementary 101 of training that I was embarrassed to make it out to be a deal. And I’m almost sure the reply would have been an eye roll and SIUP Suck It Up Princess.
The cheerful resolution was fairly easy to maintain until I got to my long run day. I was going to be running alone and in the cold dark. And for the longest time I have ever run straight out.
Deep breath in and I was off. Apart from the jumpy nervousness of running in the dark, I ran confidently. I knew this was something I had to work on and I was ready to work on it.
Focus on something else other than your fears
My first darkest fear was running in the dark. Together with the question why. Why was I trying to be this runner/triathlete person instead of being “normal” like my social circle.
Instead of focusing on my fear of the dark, I focused on those gothic statues that scare me – I thought of the Weeping Angels and what it would be like to run with
David Tennant The Doctor. The adventures, the imaginations, the silliness of it all!
Run in the Moment
The sun came up and replaced my fear of the dark with more of the unknown “why”.
I still don’t have an answer to the why, but all I knew was I was happy at that moment. I was doing something so strong (for me) that I couldn’t even think of why I was doing it; I was just answering to a primal desire to be.
How was I going to feel 1hour later, or on tomorrow’s run?
Let me tackle that when it comes up (provided I was following the plan and not messing up the physical aspect of the run, of course!). But for that time, I was just going to enjoy how happy I was.
Replace Doubts and Frustrations with Belief
That big darn question “Why”!
I believe THAT is the darkest of my mental fears.
Why am I choosing to do this? Why am I not satisfied? Why am I looking for more even as I know that somethings perhaps will never come to be?
This run, I tackled the doubt by simply believing.
Believing that there is always something more to strive for.
What matters is not the why or what, but believing in my ability to put in effort and commitment.
I believe in putting in the work knowing that on race day (or 4 days in this case at Dopey!), what will be will be. And what will be is what I put into it and how I face each training run and how I face race day.
Let Happiness translate to Goofiness
While running happy, I had this Bollywood song stuck in my head which I kept singing over and over. And when I got slightly impatient in the last 30 minutes, I started singing this out aloud! (Apologies to cyclists that I may have creeped out). The impatience was replaced with memories of high school days and more happiness.
My favourite part in it loosely translates to
“Today I am up high, the sky is below me. I’m up in front and the world is behind me.
Tell me, what do I do – shall I walk on straight or shall I run backwards”.
An essentially happy song, that perfectly reflected my determination to be cheerful on the run.
I know this is just one week that I was focused to train to run happy. But it is a good start to carry the momentum moving forward. There will be good days and bad days and as said “The Hard is what makes it Great”. I cannot control (for most part) what makes a run good or bad.
What I can control is the attitude I bring to the run.
Being nervous is so yesterday. Being confident and happy is what is going to drive me today (Even after I saw the monstrous long runs I have coming at me!)
How do you face the doubts and frustrations that your mind throws at you? Other than running mantras that a lot of people use, what do you do to drive yourself day in and day out?
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