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There are times when running is just plain hard. Like I-don’t-want-to-take-another-step hard. I felt like that on my long run this weekend. Something happened right at 10.47 miles into a 16 mile run. I didn’t want to finish. I was cold, tired and just wanted to be done. I wanted to call my husband to come pick me up, go home, make a big bowl of oatmeal, snuggle into some sweatpants and forget that I’m training for a marathon.
We’ve all been there. It’s not a fun place to be. Your mind ping-pongs back and forth between reasons why you’re justified in quitting and reasons why you should keep going. On Sunday it was extra difficult for me to keep going because I wasn’t just struggling to finish my run due to feeling cold and tired. It was a struggle to feel justified in even training for a marathon. Why are you taking all this time for yourself? You should be home with your family. You haven’t even gotten to the really long runs yet and how much time is that going to take?
It’s incredibly easy for guilt to come flooding in along with the negative thoughts and doubts. So on Sunday, instead of cutting my run short I did this:
1. Quiet the negative thoughts. I tried to be as rational as possible. Yes, I wanted to quit BUT it was more important for me to finish this training run because it’s building to something bigger: my marathon. I wasn’t going to let feeling cold and tired stop me. As for the guilt, I rationalized that by thinking of the times when I invest myself in my kids (which is pretty much 24/7). Taking the time to train for a marathon is a much needed break for me from being “mom.” Then I thought of my supportive husband. If he knew that I was feeling guilty, he would laugh and tell me I’m being silly. I told myself to let go of the guilt.
2. Remember your strength. When I want to quit, when runs get really hard or I reach that threshold in a race where it is just pure pain, I try to remember times when I have been strong. Not just physically strong, but emotionally strong. I picture what how I reacted that difficult moment and remind myself that I have that strength within me. Strong is there— you just have to find it.
3. Let go of the miles. I had to stop counting the miles and just let myself run. I switched my watch display so that I could not see how many miles I had run. I only focused on each step. I broke down the rest of the run by landmarks and turns in the road instead of beeps on my watch. My mantra became “run this moment.”
The rest of my run wasn’t lighting fast and didn’t become instantly easy, but I did finish all 16 miles. And that was victory enough.