On Monday, I got a text from a friend of mine who ran her first marathon last fall and is now training for a half. She let me know she had run a 10 miler with hills and that while it had been physically tough, she had a harder time getting through it mentally. She asked if I had any advice on breaking down that psychological barrier. Hmmm. Great question.
Then, this morning my running teammate and I were discussing our route via email and in her last message she wrote "i am soooooooooooooo beat down right now. I am trying to not even think about the next 5 weeks.................". I nodded quietly to myself as I read.
Later, I hobbled into my physical therapist's office with back pain and sore muscles and asked her how I could possibly make it through the next eight weeks of training if I already felt like this. I was hoping she might have the magical answer.
Despite the fact that all three of us and so many more people out there choose to run, we often wonder why and how we can do it. It can be so freakin' hard. It takes so much out of our bodies and can beat us down mentally on a regular basis. So what the hell are we doing? I ask myself (and whoever else might know) this on a daily basis. It turns out my PT did have the magic answer for me. Here's what she said. "It's really simple, Rebecca. A race is just a race. The hard work is your reward. That's what you love. Remember to enjoy the struggle. Because that's truly what it's all about." And she's right. I do love getting out there every day with my teammate, powering through the workout, high-fiving when it's over and earning my coffee and maybe a few bragging rites. I love and often crave the hard work. If I didn't, I wouldn't be a runner.
Finally, my realization was reinforced when I read the following quote from Jim Taylor, Ph.D., a sports psychologist and author who said, "when you get a fundamental enjoyment from just being out there running, that keeps you going...the greater goals shouldn't be about crossing the finish line, but the process involved in getting there." Amen.
Listen to this:
I Go I Go I Go - Wave Machines