For a long time I was against running a marathon. Not against people running them in general – I wasn’t picketing along the sidelines of the Boston Marathon with signs saying “You Suck Runners!” or anything like that. No, I was convinced in my inner most psyche that running a marathon just wasn’t for me. The black toenails, the fatigue, the recovery, the training, not to mention running for more than 3 HOURS – let me be honest here for a moment and tell you it would be closer to 4 hours in my case.
But then I broke through a wall. The mind is an amazing thing. It has a lot of power over someone’s emotional and mental state and can affect how someone lives day-to-day. But it has been primarily through running that I’ve seen what a hold the mind has over someone’s physical state as well.
TANGENT ALERT: During the fall I became a fan/succumbed to the power of the Biggest Loser. If you are ever in doubt of how much the mind has a vise grip on the physical well-being of someone just watch the Biggest Loser. While the road to success and healthy living is certainly multi-layered, it is amazing to see people’s bodies and lives transformed as their minds are transformed. People are capable of doing more than they think they can, they just never push themselves to that level because in their minds they are defeated even before they start. Biggest Loser takes those misconceptions and forces contestants to overcome mental obstacles on a daily basis.
For me, that most recent breakthrough came in the form of the love of the run.
Before a run I would think of excuses why I shouldn’t run that day: too hot, too cold, stomach hurt, not enough time, my shoelaces were too white, and so on. Fortunately I wouldn’t listen to myself most days and would set out for a run anyway. During the run I would think of why I wasn’t enjoying my run: too hot, too cold, too hilly, my legs hurt, my feet were sore and on and on. All this changed when I started biking. Yes. Biking. I love to bike when it’s warm. I have a wonderful trail close to my house where I can fly along for four miles before the trail ended, then fly back home. There’s about a mile between the start of the trail and my house which is great at the start because it’s all downhill. But that last mile when my mind’s telling me I should be home, it’s all uphill. And when you’re primarily a runner, biking a half mile plus continuously uphill is HARD! But because I loved to bike so much I found the hills weren’t a big deal at all. Yes, they were still difficult, but a very manageable difficult.
What I found through biking was the mental push I had needed to run up those hills and find I was more than strong enough to do it! This newfound strength made me want to run more often and longer distances than before. Instead of pushing myself out the door to run 2 or 3 miles, I practically salivate at the thought of being able to run and find I don’t want to stop once my sneakers start pounding the pavement.
And so I have a new mission for 2010- to run my first marathon and to learn through the journey in getting there.