It’s no secret that running is hard. Even though I throughly enjoy running and even have “easy run” days, it will never be easy. It turns out, the adage “running is 90% mental” is more fact than adage. Umm…obviously. Your mind quits before your body. I could have told you that right off the bat. But no matter how much I know it to be true, I forget about it while running. Those negative thoughts can easily creep in and before I know it I’m convincing myself to take up another sport.
For me, one of the biggest mental struggles with marathon training involves looking at my training plan weeks in advance. Seeing 17, 18, 20, 22 weeks down the road puts a damper on the present…on my current week of running. For example, I knew that I had 17 miles on my schedule for this coming weekend and when I hit 16 miles on Saturday I wanted to keep going and “get it over with.” I feel good now so shouldn’t I keep running? What if I don’t feel as good next week?
I’m not going to give you tips or suggestions for pushing through mental barriers because a) I don’t really find that stuff useful myself…I learn from personal experience not tips and b) what the heck do I know??? I could give you my weird strategies but the reality is I just “fake it ’til I make it” (which is actually my motto for a lot of things). I use whatever I can get to work that day but there are days when NOTHING works. Sometimes runs are just plain difficult and there aren’t any positive mantras that can help. That happens. When it happens more often than not is when I think there could be a problem, we’ll save that topic for another day.
My point: mental training is just as important as physical training. Running takes a lot of discipline and structure, which is something you don’t see on the surface. People see happy-go-lucky runners who look like they’re effortlessly sprinting but they can’t see the mental side. All of the “hard” things about running (getting up early, sacrificing/rearranging plans, dealing with weather, the actual run) will always be there. Practice with them makes perfect. Or in my case, makes them more tolerable.
The half/full marathon is known as the “victory lap” of your training. In my opinion it’s a long victory lap but I understand the premise. You only have to do the marathon ONCE….you have to do the training for 15+ weeks. 15 weeks is a long time, but no one said it would be easy.
So no, I didn’t run farther than 16 miles even though I felt good. I know better than to increase mileage too soon and this was just part of building my mental strength. I have 10 more weeks and loads of room for improvement. Until then, I’ll be banking my physical and mental work to cash out on November 8. Hopefully I’ll have a lot saved up to withdraw.