Running is awesome. My favorite part of my day is waking up before the world has put down her coffee cup, and exploring the city in the morning sun. Isn’t that beautiful?
I need to remind myself of that. Especially after today.
I signed up for my first *official* 5k, and anticipated it with every workout and run. I was mostly excited, and only a littler nervous. My dad found out and decided he’d join me along with a family friend. Their support is awesome! But, their presence is a little terrifying knowing that they’re both avid marathoners.
I’m sure many of my fellow runners can relate to this feeling. Excitement towards being a part of a group, but also fear of competition. Can’t we just run for fun?
Now everyone is there and you can watch the people two, or three times your age zoom past you.
NOW you’ve got to step it up. Cut that pace in half! Give it your all!
Oh wait, I can’t run this fast for 3.1 miles continuously! Here comes anxiety.
Do I always breath this heavily?
Is my form as bad as that guy’s?
So this is what people were talking about when they said “it’s all mental.” Your worst enemy is your own mind. Factors that you once peacefully ignored are now excavated. Time, self-image, self-consciousness, and speed are now racing (hah) through your head, even faster than you can run! Running was never this stressful before.
You’re still running, and you still love running. Remember? Now, let’s combat these negative vibes:
Remember why you you run
Take this out of context. Remember that sun you once admired? That way the morning sun makes the dewy grass twinkle? That pitter patter from your feet that makes you feel like a warrior of health and productivity?
Or maybe you’re not a nature person, and you just like the rush you feel from running, or the bragging rights you get. Whatever the reason is, reinforce that. When you’re feeling weak, think of one thing that inspires you! Fight that fiery pain with fiery passion!
Look back to look forward
As Winston Churchill once said: “The father back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”
Okay, maybe I’m pushing the change in context, but it really applies to running! Look back at how far you’ve come. Have you hit that 1 mile marker? (Or for you advanced runners, 10, 20, 20.5?) Look at you! Go you!
Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve hopped on the struggle bus at the 0.5 mile marker. That’s not that much to be proud of, so look further back. Remember that last training run you did? Remember that time you got lost and kept running even though you know you went way over (maybe that only happens to me…)? Think back on all the training you’ve done for this moment. You’re strong! I promise!
Remember, just because an old fart is beating you *cough* Dad *cough* doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
Okay, it hurts a little to see your butt getting whooped by a kid, or someone two ~ three times your age. BUT if they’re that fast, they’ve probably been training for a lot longer than you. Don’t let something a silly as an appearance let you judge how fast/slow a person should be, and don’t compare yourself to them. You’re all there to run, and ideally, most are there to have fun.
Burn your garmin. Burn it.
Send me pictures please, I’d love to see.
Just kidding, don’t do that. But when it comes to “beating your time,” don’t stress out too much about it. Pay attention to your body. If you think you can, by all means, go for it! If you stayed up a little too late, or neglected hydration, don’t kill yourself over a few silly numbers. Focus on being your best in other ways. There’s more than one way to be awesome.
Don’t depend on others too much.
Running with a group is awesome, but if you know they want to go too fast (or too slow if you’re a lucky duck), then don’t push yourself to keep up with them. It’s okay to say “I need to slow down.” You can even try to get away with some cramping BS, but just a note from personal experience, don’t expect people to believe it. Even if it’s true.
If you’re traveling, know how to get back to your hotel/meeting spot. If you did some sort of bag check, make sure you can access it without dependence on anyone else. Feeling dependent on someone can be a burden and a blessing in the sense that you’re going to push yourself to keep up with them/hold back the desire to go your true pace, but also, worry is a great coach and pacer.
But really, don’t do that if your body will hate you for doing it.
These are all mindful things you can do to trick yourself into having a good run. Again, the best thing you can do is to motivate yourself. Be inspired to be the best you can, rather than worried that you’re going to embarrass yourself.
Running is great! And so are you.
Now go out and kick butt!