By Dawn Onley
I was supposed to run yesterday’s Marine Corps Marathon, but I didn’t. It wasn’t that I suffered an injury or that some type of emergency came up. I didn’t run it because I couldn’t get my mind right to train so I could run it.
I’m bummed out about it.
I’ve always said that running is more of a mental exercise than it is physical. It’s natural to concentrate on the physical aspects of running, conditioning the body, developing your stride, practicing breathing techniques, trying to avoid injuries, etc. But, it’s so much more than that.
First and foremost, running is about getting your mind right. The brain is boss, pushing the body to new endurance levels — or not. For distance running, it’s vitally important for a runner to master her thoughts. It is common for the body to want to quit, almost from jump, so it’s incumbent upon the mind to convince the body to keep going.
I failed to get the mind-body alignment working this year.
There are undoubtedly people who absolutely love to run. There are people who would rather run than do just about anything. I know this because I’ve met a few of them. People who have just started running and found it to be a passion or those who have run for decades and can let you know all the particulars, the best shoes, gear, about running on various terrains, in various states, even countries.
I was never one of them.
Don’t get me wrong, I love how running makes me look and feel — after the fact — but the very act of running usually finds me hemming and hawing, from the start to the finish, until my mind forces my body to shut up and move. Starting is always the toughest part for me, but even after I’m out there, it’s quite the task to keep my mind focused and determined to not give in to the voices that are telling me to stop.
Every. Single. Time.
The key for me is to run so often that it becomes routine. When running is developed as a habit, it’s harder to break. I didn’t accomplish that this year. I failed to reach my goal. This is one vision on my Vision Board that I can’t cross off.
But I have run a marathon before. That gives me some solace. When I ran the New York City Marathon in 2011, I ran five days a week, rain or shine. I conditioned my mind to make my body my slave. I knew that if I gave in to my body’s request to sleep in or to take a break, I wouldn’t run that marathon.
The mental part cannot be underestimated. For running, but for so much more. Virtually anything that requires us to stretch our limits well beyond our comfort zones, requires a strong mental game.
- To run a business.
- To make healthier lifestyle choices.
- To write a book.
- To avoid getting distracted by small annoyances that threaten to get in the way of the big picture.
- To become stronger. Wiser. Better.
Although my body temporarily won the battle this year, my mind will win the war.
Here’s to you and I pushing past failures to accomplish a strong mental finish in 2017. In life.
Mind over matter.