Running: The Mental Challenge

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How many times have you wanted to hit the road but thought to yourself “well I don’t know if I can run that long,” or “I just can’t get my head around running that far.” We all have those thoughts. It is extremely common for us to think negatively or not be able to find the motivation or drive to get out there and just go because we over think everything or we doubt ourselves. And forget it, when we are actually physically running and your brain is overloading with messages from your lungs, legs, feet and skin about being tired, hot, cramping, sore, etc. it is so easy to become overwhelmed.

I have been toying with the idea of running my first marathon in March. I was supposed to run the Philly Marathon in November but due to moving 5 states away and my new job it is just not going to happen for me. No lie, I actually felt relieved. I couldn’t believe how scared I was to attempt to run a FULL marathon. For me, it is extremely intimidating and I get wrapped up in my thoughts and nerves so fast. Completing a full marathon for me would be one of the biggest accomplishments for myself. But I get in my head so fast and doubt that I could do it.

So how do you take control of your thoughts to prevent the negativity?

Anticipating, realizing and visualizing. Anticipate anything happening during your run BEFORE running. Anticipate the discomfort, the fatigue, the soreness, sweating, hurting because in truth they will occur. Maybe not every run but one day you may feel amazing and the next may be an absolute struggle. Realize you are not alone in these thoughts. Somewhere out there someone is experiencing these same feelings, and admitting this to yourself does not make you weak it makes you mentally stronger than ever. The only way it can become a weakness is if you let your thoughts get the best of you. Visualize the finish line or the end of a run. Visualize the last mile mark you pass as you push yourself to your limits. Believe you are truly capable of anything you set your mind to and prepare for.

All of this will help you build confidence as a runner. You will be able to look back at past workouts and remember how you pushed through the fatigue and the hurt. Confidence hinges upon consistency. So do not give up. Keep going. The more you do the more you build your confidence.

I cannot tell you how proud I was of myself for crossing the finish line after my first half marathon. I could not wait to get home and sign up for another. I KNEW I could do it because I had proven it to myself. This allowed me to continue going on my journey and setting new goals with running for myself. My dilemma now, is anticipating, realizing and visualizing what can occur during my training for the marathon in March. I can look back at past runs and training sessions and recall all I have done and use that to help build my confidence. I will tell myself you won’t always have an amazing run. There will be days where I am going to struggle and hurt, but it is up to me to push through and finish.

Whether you are new to running, have been at it for a few years, or an expert, you will have moments of doubt. It is up to you to control the negativity and allow your confidence to shine through. We are all capable of anything we set our minds to. Now believe these words and get working!

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