I’ve been reading a lot of race reports lately, mostly related to the RNR DC Marathon and half marathon. I realize the weather played a role for many, but the one thing that struck me as I was reading was how often people referenced their mental state. There were negatives such as “I just gave up”, “my Garmin played with my head”, “I stopped caring” (that’s the one that most often happens for me.) There were positives such as “I was hurting, but I knew I could do it”, “I just dug deeper”, and “I wasn’t going to entertain negative thoughts”.
It amazes me how much of a role the brain plays in running. Lately, my legs don’t seem to show up at races. I’m still trying to determine if it’s a physical cause (not enough taper or hydration or fuel) or a mental cause (adrenaline or lack of confidence or?). Some races I’ve been able to push through it and some races I haven’t. What makes the difference? My mental state.
Most of us show up at the start line with a good idea of what our bodies are capable of. We’ve trained (or not) and know approximately what pace our body can handle for any given distance. Sure, hills, weather, and physical issues (stomach, anyone?) can throw a wrench in things, but some of the most amazing race reports I’ve read recently involve finding the mental strength to push past those things.
Lately, I’ve found that I’m easily undermined, not just in races, but also in life. Someone will say something and I’ll start questioning my ability to handle a project. Or I’ll forget to do something and I’ll start wondering if I can really handle all the things I have going on. Things will get difficult and I’ll decide it’s not worth it after all.
But, really, it all boils down to attitude and mental strength. When I decide I can do something, generally speaking, I manage it. Or I find a way around it. It’s all about finding my inner strength.
Do you work to build your mental strength when training? Do you have mantras you pull out when things get rough? Or do you sometimes let your brain get in the way of accomplishing what you wanted to accomplish?