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.
Liv @ Healthy Liv says
Love this post! And it sounds like you’re being really smart to not increase your mileage too quickly, even though you felt good on your last long run. I agree 100% that running is so mental!
Liv @ Healthy Liv recently posted…The Start of Sophomore Year
There is too much time until the race for me to be jumping mileage. Don’t know how people do that longterm!
I’ve run into the too much too soon mistake SO many times so I applaud your discipline and trust of your plan.
Like you said, there’s no one trick to get through a run, usually I have to figure out what my strategy is when I start because I never really know until I’m actually running.
Love hearing about your training. And yeah longest victory lap ever!
Georgie recently posted…the Best of Summer
I can totally relate…sometimes I think my mental trick will be music, but sometimes I need to do more than that. Whatever works I guess.
The hardest part of me every training cycle is mental. I getting into the groove with long runs, figuring out balance between pushing it and rest is difficult. I’m so excited for your training cycle – you’re totally going to crush it :) Hope you have a fabulous Monday girl!
Jamie recently posted…Bye Felicia (August) #MIMM
I’m excited for YOUR training cycle too!
She Rocks Fitness says
Even though I do not run marathons, I definitely will look at my training schedule for half marathons and dread those longer runs. Running is so mental and it takes a lot to prep yourself for any run on any given day. It is all about positivity and taking it one day at a time. Great job on your 16 miles this weekend…You ROCK!
She Rocks Fitness recently posted…Time To Slow Down + prAna Review
Sometimes getting out of bed for a run/workout (or even the start of the day) is the hardest part. One day, one run, one workout at a time. Thanks, friend :)
Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie says
Trusting my training plan is huge for the mental side of running for me. I switched up my training plan for my upcoming half and it scares me a bit to try a new plan, since the last one I did worked well, but I just need to trust in it and not stress over looking at all the weeks together, instead I just need to focus on it day by day.
Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie recently posted…My First CrossFit Class
Exactly! This is the first time I’ve done anything like this so it’s tempting to go back to my comfort zone. Hoping this pays off!
Hayley @ Full of Life says
You are a badass. And also keep it real, so the best combination. I can’t imagine ever running 16 miles at once, let alone 26, so that makes you superwoman in my eyes haha. I can’t wait to hear how the marathon goes for you!! :)
Hayley @ Full of Life recently posted…Weekend Recap: Lots of Burgers and Movies
Thank you for being so supportive! I’m hopeful this one will go better than the last (I got hypothermia in NYC lol)
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
The mental side of things IS the hardest part. We know out bodies can handle the “fitness/physical” aspect (as we’ve seen it before), but letting our minds get through and get STRONGER is what training IS about!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Blue Cornmeal Baked Onion Rings
The mental side of everything is usually the hardest part! Just getting ourselves out there and keeping a positive mindset is almost half the battle.
Sarah @pickyrunner says
Totally relate to this one. At the beginning of marathon training, I found myself dreading all of my long runs which was crazy because they used to be my favorite thing. As soon as I forced myself to change my mindset, I started loving the long runs. Even today, doing 20 miles wasn’t so bad because I was happy to be out there running. Although my mental game on the last few miles could use some work… I’m a big fan of faking it till you make it. Works every time! Except when it doesn’t ;)
Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted…Training 8/23-8/29
I’m the same way. I love long runs and feel good during them (most important part) but the build up to them stresses me out. I guess I’ve just accepted that the first 5 miles will be mentally tough and then I settle into a groove.
interesting post ! when i saw your pic all i thought was you look happy and pretty ! such a glow and such clear skin ! my skin turns to sh*t once i start running longer runs. then you mentioned the ponytail knot…so i had to go back up and look ! that part i can relate to ! i like the quote though about mental side getting you to the finish. totally true !
Ha, thank you! I got lucky with good skin genes.
Rebecca @ MyEagerFeet says
I just caught myself looking at my peak weeks and getting nervous about hitting my goals, which I realize is silly, because I will obviously be in better shape when I get to that part of training. I usually do pretty good at keeping the negative thoughts away, it’s more I tend to work myself up before a run, but do fine during it.
Rebecca @ MyEagerFeet recently posted…Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 5
I takes me until 5 or so miles into my long run to feel relaxed and confident in my abilities. It IS scary to look ahead and see those big numbers. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that.