Mind over Matter


By Dawn Onley

Two years ago, I was supposed to run the 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.

For months, I was bummed out about it.

Running, like other forms of exercise, 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.

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.


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.

Back when I was running frequently, I loved how it made me look and feel — after the fact — although the very act of running usually would cause me to hem and haw from the start sometimes clear up to the finish. 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 two years ago. I failed to reach my goal — at least at that particular moment in time.

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.

Life is about how well we manage and focus our minds to what we hope to accomplish.

  • 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.

You Got This

Here’s to us getting our minds right and pushing past failures to accomplish our heart’s desires. Here’s for us having a great year and a great life.

Mind over matter.

Woman raised hand

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