Step 1: Don’t run (as in – it is ok to take breaks, & modify plans).
The title of this describes my general state of mind, and relationship with running since Mid-August (it’s October). When I was running, because I was preparing for the Chicago Marathon, but mentally so burnt out from running it was chore.
Mentality & attitude are funny things, when you can’t do something, or have to do something- you’re chronically thinking about it, for better and for worse.
So. Step 2 – Embrace where you’re at, find the gratitude, and look for the run – if the fun doesn’t find you.
I took for granted how mentally taxing following a 26 week 50k training plan would be, and how little time I’d need between May and July to recoup.
I signed up for Chicago in late 2018, so I was locked into that before I even signed up for the 50k. At several points, I was so fed up with running I seriously considered deferring, ultimately I didn’t want it hanging over my head for a variety of reasons, and just planned to go to Chicago, and have fun.
And that’s when everything changed. Seriously.
Running a marathon is kind of a big deal. In the weeks, and days leading up to it, people will ask things like “how are you feeling”, “are you excited”, “are you trying to run a certain time”, etc.
It can really be a lot, and in the past it’s usually how I end up psyching myself out.
All of the times I have ran my best races, I have either been doing it purely for fun, and/or just not making a huge deal of what I want my time to be.
I knew leading up that I needed to get my head on somewhat straight, and ultimately that’s what this post is about.
Here are my tips for getting your brain and your shit together to have fun with the insanity you signed up for:
- Visualization– I have run Chicago before, I personally found it very helpful to think about the course, what it looks like to be on the course, and what areas of the course I was excited to see
- Appreciating running –I revisited Deena Kastor’s “Let your Mind Run”, and reading Matt Fitzgerald’s “How Bad do you Want it”. This helped me deal with nerves being normal, and also settle down, and overall be grateful for the upcoming experience
- Make a plan– for the first time ever I sat down, and actually put pen to paper, and made a plan, it did include time goals, and it also mapped out fueling, when to take gels, when to take gatorade, and when to be tough.
- Have a mantra- “I am, I can, I will, I do” – yes its from Christine for Peloton, but it resonates real deep with me.
I started doing all of this, and reminding myself to have fun, and guess what I did.
Did I pr?
No. Looking back at my training – I’m not sure a pr was TRULY in the cards – what DID happen – I had fun, I ran my second best time, I ran my best Chicago, I smiled every time it felt hard, I high fived kids, and drank some beer. I also slept the best I ever have in the nights leading up.
What worked for me, may not work for you, but what I have learned is your brain needs to be as in shape as the rest of your body.