Yeah, I know he was talking about baseball, but honestly, running is the same way. At least it is for me. I’ve run two half-marathons and zillions more miles in training. I’m not fast and I won’t break any records, but I know I have the physical ability to finish a 5K or a half-marathon.
But it’s not the physical ability that gets me. Okay, so my legs were a bit sore toward the end of today’s eight-mile training run (thank you, hilly stretch over Highway 183-A) but I wasn’t incapacitated by it. No, it’s that voice in my head–I’ll call her Fred–that looks ahead, calculates that I have three miles to go, and points out that I can’t possibly run all of it without a walk break. Or when I’m at mile 12.9 of a half-marathon and I tell myself to power through that last hill to the finish, and Fred chimes in to tell me I can’t. Imagine having the offspring of Siri and Marvin from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in your head, and you’ll see what I mean.
I feel like I have two personalities in there–the one who wants to push harder, run further, suck it up, and finish strong, and Fred, the counter-productive naysayer. And while sometimes I can drown Fred out with Maroon 5 or distract her with an episode of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, more often than not, especially on longer runs, Fred manages to barge in and shake my confidence.
I’ve developed a few strategies to stifle Fred’s voice, but I have yet to silence her completely. Sometimes I bargain with myself–run to the next street light/corner/mailbox. Or I switch songs on my ipod. Or I focus my vision on a tree or a building or the sunrise/sunset off in the distance, sort of a “Nyah nyah, I can’t hear you!” gesture. Sometimes I literally say out loud, “Suck it up, Princess” which usually comes out louder than I intended, thanks to the muffling effect of my headphones. 😉
But I’m not one of those people who loves running, who can zone out and just go, who runs double-digit distances for fun. I like being done with my run, not the run itself. Many days, every mile–hell, every step–is a challenge. Clearly I need to add some mental exercises into my training regimen–but how? I know how to improve my physical endurance, but I don’t have a clue how to deal with Fred. My phone has a Do Not Disturb function–too bad my brain doesn’t.