We sometimes have a substitute coach at my Saturday morning BrikTense triathlon class. When Coach Chad leads us through the bike drills, he is full of advice and witty sayings. I find myself saying, “He is so right!” or “I need to remember that during my next long run!” Unfortunately, I never remember them once I get home.
Last week, I wanted to push myself during the Groundhog Run 10K. As I wrote last week, I’ve had 10 weeks where I REALLY HATE RUNNING. But, I’ve kept at it because I know this problem is a result of the tough couple of months I’ve had, and eventually, I will once again LOVE to run. In the days leading up to the Groundhog Run, I realized things were improving enough that I didn’t dread lacing up my shoes. I knew it wouldn’t be my fastest race, but I wanted to use it as a test of my current fitness level.
I said going in that I was in my worst running shape ever. Last year, at the start, I thought I was at my top.
I’ve been in a rebuilding stage, making sure I take rest days, focusing on nutrition… getting enough sleep. And, struggling to run 1/4 of a mile right around Christmas. The week of the Groundhog Run, I still hadn’t completed a 6 mile run without walking. So, that was my goal. To run hard and walk the aid stations (It’s warm and dry in the tunnels underground, and a little difficult to breathe, so hydration is important.)
There were times I wanted to quit. And every time, I imagined Thor running behind me, gently pushing my back to move me forward (because I would never stop with Thor believing I could do it.). And, I thought about all the things Coach Chad told us in class the day before. (This is probably not at all exactly what he said, but it was my best attempt… and he said a lot of things that have completely fallen out of my brain right now.)
“There’s a Walmart next door. You can’t buy speed at Walmart. To get faster, you have to put in the work.”
“This is not a movie. When you’re in a race, no one is going to yell, ‘Cut!’ and give you a do over. This. Right now. This is it. Practice the way you want to perform on race day.”
In the end, I didn’t stop. It wasn’t my best time ever, but it was one minute better than last year’s time, when I thought I was in such fabulous shape! (Which tells me that I am in a great position right now and far ahead of where I was at this time last year!)
One good run can do so much to turn things around! That race did a lot for my mental state, in terms of believing again that I can do it. So when it was time for our in-class triathlon yesterday, I pushed myself to run faster.
Coach Chad was a participant yesterday, not the coach. When it was time to run, I was on the treadmill next to his. And, I got to experience Coach Chad and his mantras in action. Coach Chad was beside me… focused. Breathing heavy. Grunting occasionally. And a few times, I could make out the words he was repeating to himself. Every time I wanted to slow down, I increased the speed instead.
When Chad finished his 3.1 miles, I still had 3/4 mile left to run! And that just motivated me to keep increasing the speed until the end. After he cooled down, he walked back through the gym to pump up some class members.
“Good job today,” I said.
He smiled. “You got some energy from me today, didn’t you?”
Yes, I did. And I also learned that I am ready to start pushing myself hard again. I not only made it through the class, and the run. I also finished running what is a really fast pace for me…. and I wasn’t tired. I knew I could have put in much more effort, which also made me excited to run again and see what I can really do.
A few weeks ago, I asked people on the Power of Run Facebook page what they say to themselves when they want to give up on a run. Here are a few of the responses:
Chantele– “When ever I am running and get to a point were I am just so tired, I think of my kids. I want to show them that you can do anything if you work hard at it, and it always gives me this boost so I can finish strong.”
Annie– “The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. Bible verses and prayers help me!“
Benita– “You’ve got this!!”
John– “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”
Tracie– “To be a champion, you must train like a champion.”
Amy– “I am strong. I am fast. I am able!”
It’s important to know yourself, and to listen to your body. You know the difference between the days when you “don’t want to” run, and the days when you shouldn’t run because your body is telling you it’s time to rest. You should also be able to tell the difference between types of pain, the pain you can run through, and the pain that tells you to back off so you don’t get an injury.
And when you take the time to listen, you can push your body to do more than you thought possible.
What do you say to yourself when you run? Do you stay focused on running? Do you count steps? Do you focus on picking off runners in front of you? Do you use a mantra or visualization to get through the tough parts?