While I am not a seasoned runner, I have had time in the past three years to learn a bit more about what works and what doesn’t for my mind and body when it comes to training consistently.
I started running just to get to a 5K and then kept at that distance for a while. I didn’t really do any races and ended up losing momentum. Once we started signing up for more 5Ks and 4-mile races I ended up keeping my running more consistent.
Once we started training for half-marathons though, things really kicked into gear. I realized that I like having a goal. Whether it is a 5K, 10K or a half, having the date in mind and a goal time really helps motivate me to get out there in the cold, wet rain…at least sometimes… The call of the dry, boring treadmill is usually too much for me to resist.
After running two half-marathons I have also noticed that much of the difficulties I face while running are mental. I have never really gotten injured, and I don’t really run fast enough to do much damage. That said, I have never been very sporty. I have confidence in my academic abilities and my ability to thrive at my job, but when it comes to finishing a run…I have major doubts. If I don’t get to do my morning routine before a long run, my mind sabotages itself and I rarely manage to get through the whole thing.
I struggle mostly past miles eight and nine. I have a difficult time just zoning out past those miles, and start thinking that I will not be able to finish. When I was first training past those miles, I would actually have mild panic/crying attacks, because I was worried that… I couldn’t stop running? It seems really weird, but I would get a bit out of breath and then start thinking… what happens if I just keep running? I will die! It all snowballed from there.
Irrational thoughts are common when getting a bit tired, but I realized that I go on these runs well hydrated, fueled and trained. There should be no fear around this, and I should feel comforted that I can stop at any point. I reminded myself that I do this for FUN. If it isn’t fun, then I am doing it wrong.
From that point on, I tried to look at what causes me to freak out when running longer distances. Before, I used to track my miles with my GPS watch. I still do, but on our longer runs sometimes I leave it at home and have my husband just war his. By not tracking myself, I was able to focus just on how my body felt while running and the scenery.
I also try to listen to music at key points. I don’t usually listen to music during the whole run, but I find it really useful towards the end to keep my pace up and my mind off of the running.
I am happy to say that I haven’t broken down or panicked since starting to just listen to my body and staying positive, and, surprise, I have had way more fun doing it!