Saturday, October 29, 2011

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 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.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Husband is Right.

Well, today I did my first real speed work of my marathon training. I've only averaged about 15 miles a week-- far from where I had planned to be at this point (only 3 weeks out from my 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale). My desire has been to run faster. Runner's World, Running Times, and various other running resources have been little help. Their solution, essentially is to just run faster. Duh. Short of years of adding miles and slowly increasing my pace. I haven't found much hope. They tell me that at my age, time is not on my side, and I will only begin that fatal decline in pace.

So, I consulted my resident fitness expert, my hubby. He's lived the life of a body builder, a power lifter, and a personal trainer (both "life" certified and now certified through Cooper's Institute Master Trainer program, NSCA, and Nike Sparq, to name a few). I've spent the last year arguing with him-- he knows heavy weights, not running. Why should I listen to him-- up until a year ago he'd never even run an official 5k, let alone read a bazillion articles on running, like me. About the time I decided that my methods did not seem to be getting me very far, very fast, and that maybe I should try his methods, he decided that I was impossible. But, at my begging and pleading he has been reluctantly investing in me, his most difficult client. And I am learning: power cleans, dead lifts, and a variety of other heavy lifting techniques actually will make me a faster runner. So, this morning's first speed work of the season? I matched my 5k PR. Thank you, Mr. Craig Lawson, best personal trainer and husband in the world!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Back at It

Well, after quite a long break (from blogging and running), I am back again. I discovered that sometimes just not running is the best way to heal an injury-- go figure! I tried cutting miles and was still feeling Achilles pain. So, I had to stop altogether. I didn't run a step for two weeks, which seemed like an eternity. I rode my stationary bike until I felt like my legs were going to fall off. Plus I did lots of CrossFit type strength training. I ran exactly one mile, divided into two days the week before the Firefighter's 5K on September 11. My little running buddy, Justin ran with me. He hadn't trained at all, except for laps done in PE and football practice.

It was a beautiful morning. In memory of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, bagpipes played. The last time I heard bagpipes play was at the funeral of a firefighter. I had to bite my lip to keep from crying. As Justin and I ran slowly side by side, I took in the sights around me. The sun was just coming up, and the view along the boardwalk was amazing. A handful of firefighters were running and carrying American flags, but instead of a solid blue sky and red stripes, those spaces contained the names of the people who were murdered on September 11.  It was an emotional return to running for me-- the sympathy I felt as I prayed for families who lost so much on that day ten years ago and the joy I felt as I ran beside my son. Then the frustration (?) as he dashed off at the finish line, leaving his old Mom in the dust.

I've been slowly adding miles. Wondering how well trained I'll be for the 13.1 on November 13 and the marathon in January. I'm already fighting my own mind... it likes to tell me I will never have time to run enough training miles before the races. Maybe that's why I'm throwing so much weight around in the gym-- to prove to my mind that my body is strong. I think that will be another post for another day...