You know when you hear something and it just clicks? This happened to me the other day while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, RunnersConnect. This episode is about conditioning your mind the way you condition your body. If you have trained for a marathon, or just being a runner, you should know running is just as much mental as it is physical. I think an argument could be made that it is actually more mentally (and emotionally) harder than physically.
Thoughts are powerful; things like visualization, setting goals, appreciating your journey and positive thoughts during your runs/training all help prepare you on race day. I know when training gets hard for me, I visualize running down L street in Sacramento during the CIM. I can see myself running through Midtown, past de Vere’s (where there are always drunk people cheering us on!) I visualize turning left down 8th street, then another left down Capitol Mall. Running down the chute with the California State Capitol in the foreground. I can see all of that, and it is my go to when training gets tough because the California International Marathon was my first marathon and it is in the city I love and call home. It helps me remember why I do this crazy thing – running marathons.
October 2015 I got injured and running has been tough for me, off and on, ever since. After the CIM (pictured above) I completely reevaluated my goals. I wanted to BQ at CIM for the past 2 years, but why? At the end of 2015 I thought to myself, “Why do you care about setting a PR or qualifying for Boston?” Truth be told, it is because that is what everyone else was doing. Sure I want to improve and challenge myself, but as I mentioned before, I was putting too much pressure on myself and not having fun. I had no balance between hard work, proper rest and self awareness.
So of course, today was another tough run. I don’t think I warmed up well enough when I went out on my run, and my glute and hamstring were both pretty painful – IT issues. I only ran 2 of 4 miles. While I could have been pissed, had a pity party for myself or try to push through, I decided to listen to my body. I cut my run short, went home and did some yoga. Yoga is another great conditioning tool. I focus on my breathing, if thoughts come into my head they are positive and I am always 100% happy after class. Completely stress free – which has been my biggest battle lately. Honestly, it is probably one of the only times I am in the present. I’m not thinking about work, running, or anything I have going on that will eventually need my attention. I am definitely lacking in my yoga skills, but I feel great after class or a solo session in my living room or garage gym. Focusing on all aspects of training – physically, mentally and emotionally – and finding the balance that works for me, right now, that is what matters.