There is an old saying in running,
“Losers look to what they are going through,
Winners look where they are going to.”
Too often on my runs, at least the ones outside, especially when each step gets more and more difficult and challenging, I start to look at things from the loser’s perspective. I think about how hard running is and how much further I have to run and a defeatist mindset overcomes me.
I hate when that happens.
I have often opined that running is as much a mental exercise as a physical one. A body doesn’t want to run. It’s hard. Very hard. It hurts. It always hurts. No body (and nobody) wants that. It’s tough. We may grow to love it, but it’s difficult. For me running has always been difficult.
Part of the reason I run marathons is because it’s difficult. That’s half the fun.
A lot of running is contradictions. We embrace the pain because we enjoy overcoming the pain. We push hard because pushing hard is what we do and because it’s… hard. We strive to go farther because we don’t think we can. Once we find we can, we push ourselves to go farther still.
If we run a distance at a certain speed, we have this urge to run that same distance faster the next time.
None of this is fun, but it’s fun being a runner. The fun is the struggle, but the struggle isn’t always fun.
In order to defeat the defeatist mindset, we have to face the pain and the misery and find a way to battle through it.
As I told myself last week, “The only way to get stronger is to get stronger.”
I have to get mentally stronger in order to get physically stronger and as I get physically stronger, my mental toughness will also improve.
Today I ran three miles, but it wasn’t easy, and I did have to walk a few times, but let me take a quick step back…
Last Thursday, May 14, I did a fast two miles on the treadmill. I stayed between 6.0 and 6.2 miles per hour until the last lap when I brought the speed up to 6.4. This was my fastest effort yet.
Yeah. Good stuff.
I’m killing two mile runs on the TM.
Then, on Saturday, we were at the Jersey shore. I ran one mile – two loops of Chadwick Beach Island. This was a great (if short) run. This was the first time that I ran outside for any distance on roads and did not feel any pain from the process of running.
I stopped at one mile because I figured I’d quit while I was ahead and also because I wanted to take a walk with my wife. (Sometimes she takes priority over the run. She had been accompanying me on a bike for this one mile jaunt, but the walk would be much more personal.)
Which brings us today. After a long day of work, writing reports, attending meetings, answering e-mails, and the like… I set out to try to cover three miles outside.
I thought it might be possible.
It was, and it wasn’t.
I stopped three times to walk, but each time, turned to go back to the spot where I stopped running to force myself to cover the whole distance running. That was a positive.
I also ran further than I did my previous effort on this route before I had to stop and walk. I tried to push through the pain and the doubt, but, in the end, the “what I was going through” trumped “where I was going to.” I hate when that happens.
Still, I covered the miles quicker and stronger than my previous effort. These are all positives. I am seeing progress. I’m feeling stronger. And I’m doing better.
On the run, I also learned that when I get tired I tend to run “weak.” I don’t know how to describe this (“running weak” is my own term – I just invented it) other than to explain that I stop taking regular strides and I slow down to an almost jog-in-place type speed. That doesn’t help. I always think it will, but it doesn’t. It make the pain worse, it slows the run to an almost crawl, and it makes where I am going to seem much to far away. Today, realizing this, I tried to run through the discomfort. I did well with this. Real well. I ran longer and stronger and harder than my last time on this route. That’s progress.
I had Achilles surgery 131 days ago. I’m still learning who I am as a runner. I’m not the guy I used to be, though I hope to find him again.
It is a process.
It’ll be a process.
But I’m making progress!