The Mind is a Scary Place
"The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It's your mind you have to convince." --Vince Lombardi
Two weeks away from my first 13.1 of the season. Eleven weeks away from my marathon. And I'm already nervous about the marathon. I know that I will have all the training I need. I know my body will be prepared and able. But it's my mind that scares me. I credit my first two slow marathons to mental breakdown. And even as I write this, I feel myself slipping into my biggest weakness-- negative self talk. If negative self talk were a sport, I would be an Olympian. I am my own worst critic. I can never be good enough, smart enough, fast enough, pretty enough, thin enough... for my own slave driving self. I'm not sure when it all started, but I've been reaching for a standard of perfection for as long as I remember. I've learned to live with that nasty, nit-picky voice in my mind. Most of the time I can see how far I've come, how fit I am, how satisfied with myself and my life. Most days, that perfectionist doesn't bother me too much. Traveling through a marathon is a different story. I am alone with my mind for far too long. Add to that the sheer pain of 26.2 miles. It's a battle. I really think the physical part is the easy part. The marathon takes a person back to the most primal place. Past about mile 20 it's just breath, legs, and mind.
So, for this year's marathon training, I'm working on strengthening my mind. I am really not sure quite how to do that. Running sources recommend a mantra, saying phrases such as, "One foot in front of the other," "Better. Stronger. Faster." (You can even find a formula for creating your own mantra on RunnersWorld.com) I am meditating on Bible verses that inspire me. Favorites from Ephesians 1 and 2 remind me that I was chosen before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in God's sight, that I am His masterpiece. Psalm 139 reminds me that it was God who shaped me and formed me in my mother's womb, and that there is no where that I can run or hide from Him. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells me that I am a new creation-- the old me (the perfectionist me) no longer exists.
I know that I am forgiven and beautiful and perfect to God, who sees me through the perfection of Jesus. I just have trouble at the deepest level accepting it and letting go of that perfectionist. So, I will continue meditating on those verses, making them a part of me, allowing them to change me.