I am writing this post at a time I am feeling weak. I know I am not weak, and I know it is a sign of strength that I am able to share my feelings, and especially if I do release this post, it will show my courage to put myself out there. I hope you will see that this is my raw, inner thoughts, and as much as I want to be successful and pretend that life is all sunshine and rainbows, it is not.
It is Wednesday afternoon, after a week of feeling heavy and tired on my runs, I need to get my feelings out, and I hope you do not mind me sharing them with you. Todays post (Elite Athlete Eats) was an insight into Tina’s belly, this is an insight into an Tina’s mind…and let me forewarn you, I am sure it is not what you expect……
This morning, I had a horrible workout. I knew it was going to be bad before I even started; I knew my mind was not in the right place. Other than one friend (thats you, Anna :P), when you are nothing but negative before you begin a workout, you begin on a downward spiral from that moment, a spiral you very rarely can be pulled out of. This is one of the bad things about running, if that little demon in your head senses your weakness, it works hard to spiral your thoughts out of control. This was the case today.
Less than one quarter through the total volume of hard effort I had for the day, I turned to my coach and said “I can’t do this“, and began to cry. Riding alongside me on a bike, he turned and yelled “YES, YOU CAN”, and went on to tell me it was all in my head, and I needed to practice being strong. My hyperventilating was not making it easy to calm down, and it took me well over 5 minutes of concentration, but I regained my breathing, and completed that 3 mile section around the time we were expecting (although the effort level was much higher than it should have been).
I continued with the workout, making sure to not look at my watch until after each repeat, but inside my head was turmoil. Thoughts of self doubt, embarrassment, frustration flowed through my mind. During and after each repeat, I began to cry, which was instantly followed by shallow breathing and a lightheadedness that can only mean one thing….your brain is not getting enough oxygen. If your brain is not getting enough, there is no way your muscles will be able to perform.
Somehow, I managed to finish all but 800m of my workout, but then the questioning came: what is wrong with me? Why can I not get in shape? Why is every run hard right now? Why did a day off not help?…..I could go on. All this negativity flowed through my mind, a voice I did not recognize. Running brings out those demons in your mind, running is a constant battle against them, but this time it was different, I realized every silver lining or positive return to my negative comment my coach gave, another negative comment shot back at him. I was becoming a pessimist, and I didn’t like it.
I am not sure “what is wrong with me” right now, but I do know that I need to accept where I am. Focus on effort level for my training in the next few weeks, and give myself a break when it comes to what I expect. I am under a lot of stress right now, and in a huge adjustment period. Even though I now do not have half the activities I did the past two years, my body is readjusting to this, and I need to just let it be. I may not be in the shape I was at this point in my training for the Phialdelphia Marathon, but I know it is in there somewhere. Your muscles remember what they are doing.
After looking into this a little more, a research study that looked into the 2004 London Marathon found that “Anxiety is motivational when coupled with feelings of excitement and calmness but harmful when coupled with an emotional profile characterized by feeling depressed, tense, tired and confused.” I also found this article called “The Sports Shrink“, which was very interesting to read about mental attitude and running. In particular, I loved this quote:
“Having a positive mental attitude doesn’t mean that you have to see every run as a great run, and every training session as fabulously positive experience, it means simply being able to see the potential for change: it means accepting that your abilities as a runner can never be measured on any one, single performance.” Don Macnaughton
I know this has just been one giant ramble, but I thought it would be useful for my readers who think that running is always just wonderful for me. Yes, I am able to run over 70 miles a week, but sometimes every single run is a struggle. Running never gets any easier, yes, you are able to run a faster pace, but it is always going to be about pushing through those times when every run is an effort. THOSE are the days that make the good times happen, the PRs feel so sweet, and the beauty of the sport.
This is one of those times. I am going to try to accept what my body is giving me right now, and let the path unfold before me as it will. What is meant to be….will be. And if you are having a hard time with self doubt or visualizing your goals then my Mile 20 Mental Training Course may be just for you!
Are you able to turn yourself around once you start thinking negative? What tricks do you use to overcome the mental demons running brings out?