I was at the tail end of the race. It was hot. It was humid. I was done.
We’ve all been there, right? The first few miles of a race, you feel like a rock star. Then, the sun comes up and everything changes.
So, at this point, I’m focusing on the old “one foot in front of the other”, just trying to continue making forward progress. Usually, when this happens, if you keep moving and keep fueling, you eventually get past it. I was going to keep moving forward until that old second wind showed up.
But, where was my second wind? It should have been here by now. That’s when your mind goes somewhere. Self doubt sets in, and the thoughts coming from your brain to your body aren’t exactly motivating you to keep going.
A few more minutes go by, and I’m taking another walk break. Just then, I hear someone behind me who is running with a buddy of hers. Her friend is probably in about the same place as me, from what it sounds like. She’s verbalizing her doubts, how tired she is, how many more miles there are. And, then I hear it.
“Keep moving. Your body is so much stronger than your mind.”
Yes! It is! Her friend needed to hear that, and so did I. Suddenly, I realized the truth behind that statement.
We train for months, we run for years. Our bodies know what to do. We are prepared, we are strong, we are ready. But, your brain knows that you’re racing. Something is different on race day. How is it that we can get through 20+ mile runs when we are training, but race day seems like it’s more of a mental game than it should be? Self talk.
So, at that point in the race, I had to switch gears. I had to let my body take over, and start to ignore my brain. I had to remind myself that I was here to put these miles in and that I was fully prepared to finish every last mile. I knew my body could do it, I just had to ignore the negative self talk that was going on.
I readjusted, and I moved on. I was smart with hydration and fueling and I took in only what I knew I could handle. The last thing I needed was to lose my focus and my fuel when I only had about 5 more miles to go. Steady and smart, that’s what gets it done.
When all was said and done, I looked back at those dark miles where I doubted myself. It will happen again, to be sure. But, I know that if I remind myself that my body is stronger than my mind, I can push through.
I rarely get nervous before races, because I just enjoy being there and being a part of a community of people like me. I look at as a chance to run with people that are there to be a part of something bigger. I need to keep my mind from racing. Steady and smart, that’s what gets it done. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Run Happy, Run Long.