Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Me vs. My Mind

So, Running can be sort of a funny thing.

Once you get over the initial training procedure (and I highly recommend the C25K program) it becomes a mental game. Your mind can play more tricks on you than you'd ever imagine, when you're running.

Before my injury, I was up to 8.5 miles. The week I threw my back out my goal was 10 miles. I never made it. But I will, sooner than later. Anyway, I had been stuck at 6 miles for the longest time. I just could not get past it. Finally, one day I did 7. And then I couldn't do that again for a while. So on my 30th Birthday, I had the motivation to break past the barrier and hit just over 8 miles. And it was 95% mental. My body was okay. My mind was a mess.

This is my mind talking to me through a run:

Through mile 1: Why did I decide to run today? Everything hurts, nothing feels good. I need to be home, in bed, still. This is awful. Whose idea was this?

Through mile 2: Eh, this isn't so bad. It actually is starting to feel good. I like running.

Now in my experience, once you finish mile 2 and head into mile 3 things can go one of two ways:
I LOVE running. Gosh this is great. I could seriously do 12 miles today. Oh it's amazing. Let's go let's go!
At which point you probably could go many many more miles.


You don't want to do this today. You've gone far enough. That lung isn't feeling so good today, is it? Oh that's your asthma flaring up. Oh and while I'm at it, how's your hip feel? A little tight doesn't it? Ooooh a twinge in your back? Better stop now or you'll be sidelined for another 6 weeks. While I'm at it, your middle toe, it's going to tickle a little bit right now, feel that yea, it's annoying isn't it? I bet if you stop it'd alll be better. Ben and Jerry are waiting for you at home....
(this is what happened today)

Some days, getting in The Zone is much harder than others. I wish I could figure it out, the Why of that. How some days that zone comes naturally and some days, you have to fight like Ugly Valley Girls at a Club to get into it. The days where The Zone seems like a figment of your imagination are especially challenging because you do really need to assess if you are in pain. For me, if my asthma really is flaring up, well, I probably should stop. Or if my back really is flaring, well, that ain't good either. But if it's my middle toe with a tickle, I just need to throw that thought away. Something easier said than done. Because your mind is really really powerful at playing tricks on you.

So of course, in my search to find out how to get to The Zone easier on those hard days, I went on a date with my little friend Google. One runner says that she has a list of things to think about while she runs. She's actually compiled this list, and goes through it, mile by mile. It helps her block out the Lazy Lady demon that tells her to stop. I like this idea because it gives you a plan, and I am good at sticking to a plan (sort of). So, tonight I'm coming up with my list, and when I head out tomorrow (another short, probably 3 mile, run) I'll be prepared. That will be practice for a longer run this weekend. Longer run...longer list.

Something I've already done was to get a LiveStrong bracelet. I know, sounds kind of hokey. But, when I start struggling, I look down at it, or rub it, and remember that I can run. I am healthy. I may hurt. I may be battling demons, but I have 2 strong, healthy legs. My lungs, as weak as they sometimes are, are not filled with disease. My back may hurt, but my spine is strong and carries healthy blood throughout my body. I can run. Many can not. Many are too sick. And aren't I lucky. These are the things you need to do to cheer yourself on and keep your body going.