This week we focused on mental toughness in running. Anyone who has run on a day like today, or pushed themselves to do more than they thought they ever could, has inevitably tapped in to their inner mental toughness.
We have all experienced times where we dig in and get something done despite not wanting to, or feeling capable of. That goes for way more than just exercise and running. It could have been learning to do something and struggling through the many failed attempts. For me, learning a second language proves insurmountable most days. Or, it could be as simple as passing up on the second helping, or the dessert. Whatever the challenge was, what pulled us through was our mental toughness.
In order to work on our mental toughness, we need to address our mindsets. Now this is funny to me because at school that’s all we work on. Why had I never fully connected it to this journey then? Yes, I did think of things like, I can’t run a marathon “yet”, but I never fully tapped in to the full power of mindset on my health and wellness.
In the past, I primarily lived with thoughts of all the things I couldn’t do well. My mindset was a well developed negative one. Negativity permeated every inch of my inner dialogue. I couldn’t run as fast as my friends, I couldn’t run without experiencing pain in my ankles and feet afterwards and I couldn’t lose weight as fast as others could. When asked to slow down my heart rate during runs, I whined about how slow I had to run and called it slogging (slow jogging). Listening to this week’s podcasts reminded me that my power to succeed resides in my mindset. It is the single most important tool I have to face this challenge. I have to dig in and do the hard work in order to be a better runner. There’s just no way around it. Avoiding it is what got me to the place I’m at right now, injured and recovering. There are no shortcuts here.
I’ve begun shifting my thoughts and tapping in to focus on all the things I can do. Today, in ridiculous humidity, I was able to maintain a steady pace at 139 bpm without having to slow down or speed up for 75 minutes. Today, I was able to run one of my miles at a 14 minute pace and keep my heart rate at 139 in extremely hot conditions. Today, my run was up in pace from the last few. Today, I filled my head with all the things that were going well and I felt myself growing taller. It really was that simple.
I’m kind of embarrassed that I, an educator who preaches about this stuff to anyone who will listen, failed to apply it to my greatest challenge, healthy living. I guess it’s like the shoemaker who has no shoes, or the mechanic who drives a clunker. We often forget to take care of ourselves along the way. I’m so thankful my coach reminded me of what I know to be true and shifted my thinking.
Going forward, I’m going to consciously stay focused on things I am doing well and celebrate my small victories along the way. When I wake up each morning, I’m going to allow myself some white space to rest, relax and think about all the things that are going well in my life. Then, I’ll get up and out to face my day. It is my belief that one small positive thought will change my whole day. My running coach has a saying, she says that when we get what we need in life, we are #winningatlife. Today, I feel as if I am doing just that.