Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What I think about when I run

I plugged my time from the Flower City Half into the training calculator on Runner's World and it predicted a time of 3 hours 39 minutes for a full marathon. Seriously? There's no way I can run that fast for 26 miles. I'll be happy if I finish in under 4 hours. Actually, I'll be happy just to finish at all. There's a part of me that has a tendency to never be satisfied. It's all "Go faster, work harder, do better, try everything." Which is ok, as long as it is balanced by the other part of me that's all "Relax. Life is good, man. Like seriously awesome, dude."

I'm making a promise to myself right now that I will be happy with whatever happens in Cleveland.

Twenty six miles is a long time to be left alone with my thoughts. So when negative thoughts creep in (I can't do this, I'm not fast enough, strong enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Yeah, all that crap), as they inevitably do, I have to shut that shit down fast.

These are some of the mental strategies that seem to work for me:

*Find everything funny. Look for any reason to smile or laugh: a funny t-shirt or sign, the cheers of the crowd, a funny remark by another runner or spectator, anything at all. I find that, in running and in life, a good sense of humor makes all the difference.

*Make up your own motto. When I need to relax or focus my mind back to more productive thoughts, I think "Light, quick, strong, relax" or "You got this, babe" (for some reason it helps to refer to myself by a term of endearment, silly as it may be) or even simply "You're doing it! You're running a half marathon!"

*Notice your surroundings. Enjoy the scenery, the weather, the experience. What better way to see the world than on your own two feet.  If the scenery or weather is awful, well then you have something else to laugh about.

*Break it down into little goals. Take it one mile at a time, or even one step at a time. If you feel tired, tell yourself "You can slow down if you have to, but you can't stop" or "The faster you go, the sooner you can stop."

*Be happy. Some days you'll feel good, some days you will struggle just to put one foot in front of the other. But you're a runner. You love this shit. Running is good for you in so many ways. Even when it sucks, it is still awesome.

*Connect. If I'm not breathing too heavily, I try to say things like "Nice job" or "Keep it up, we're almost there" or "I like your shirt/hat/shoes/etc" to other runners as they pass. It takes a certain amount of dedication and craziness to be a distance runner. Embrace your fellow runners. They are your solemates.

Lyric of the moment: "My body tells me no, but I won’t quit, 'cause I want more, 'cause I want more..."


  1. You are going to kick so much ass at this race! 3:39 here you come!!!

    The notice your surroundings suggestion makes me think of meditative running, for the record.

    And the complimenting others helps a TON for me. It helps me forget how much I am hating my life. haha.

    AND when I get tired, I count steps. I read it in a runners world. It helps. You pick a foot and count to 50 steps (or whatever number you pick) and then switch feet (which for some reason takes a lot of concentration for me).

    Now granted, I'm nowhere near that amazing runner you are, but I know A LOT about being tired and not wanting to run anymore. hahaha. You're going to rock it! So when those negative thoughts creep in, "shut that shit down fast" (loved that line for the record). You got this!!! I know it!!!

  2. Jen,

    You are truly an amazing runner! I followed you in that half until I could no longer keep up with you! I know those thoughts that you're fighting with and I can only tell you that every time I had them I kept repeating my goal time.

    Set a goal, I think that you will beat it anyway! When you're fighting your thoughts remember your goal and it will help you to run faster. It lit a fire under my ass!

    You're going to do great, and by the way I think you're fast enough, strong enough, thin enough, pretty enough and yes all of that crap so kick ass or else!

  3. I wrote something funny and its not here.... soooo... your loss