Running and mental toughness

18 Apr

I’ve been training for my upcoming marathon (May 19) since January and it’s been going pretty well. I’ve been feeling very optimistic and confident that I will do well. The first time I trained for a marathon, I got down on myself a lot. For some reason I kept convincing myself I couldn’t do it. Every time I had a bad run or I was tired I thought, there’s no way I can do this. This time, however, I haven’t really had this problem. I’m not sure if it’s because I already did it once or maybe because I feel stronger now and I’m more confident in my training. But I’ve been really optimistic and happy with my progress all along … until about a week and a half ago.

I’m not really sure what happened, but I was going through a really icky lapse in confidence. I’ve been really diligent about following my training schedule to a T and completing my long runs each Saturday. I ran my 18-miler on a Friday afternoon because I had plans to go out of town for the weekend and since returning (a little over 2 weeks ago) the weather hasn’t cooperated or I’ve had plans that interfered and I haven’t been able to do a run over 10 miles. Plus, because of cold temps, rain and windy conditions, I’ve barely ran outside the last 2 weeks (this after weeks of unseasonably warm temps that had me out on the trail nearly every day). Plus, the knee pain that plagued me while training for my last marathon has resurfaced and I can’t find a way to stop it aside from taking ibuprofen every time I run.

Because of the weather I’ve been spending tons of time on the treadmill and not really feeling well. Every time I stepped on the treadmill last week I thought, Ugh. I did a good job at pushing myself through my runs but I wasn’t running very fast and I was feeling very frustrated. Maybe I was wrong to be so optimistic, I thought … maybe this will be harder than I thought. Maybe I won’t be ready.

I discussed these issues with my husband and he assured me that I’m doing fine, my training is on course and I should just chill out! I’m not sure if that’s what did it, but since the end of last week it seems as though I have snapped back. I still couldn’t do the long run I wanted to last weekend because of disagreeable weather, but I ran on the treadmill for an hour and a half both Saturday and Sunday, which is long enough! And mostly, I think I realized that I actually can do this. Even if I don’t feel well during my run one day or my training schedule gets interrupted, I can do this.

Anyway, I think the important take-away from this is that it’s important to learn to “bounce back” quickly. If you have a bad run or you skip a run or you skip a WEEK of runs, it’s ok. If you get down on yourself, you might not get back out there. But if you tell yourself it’s ok, I can do this, you will try again and you will probably be just fine.

Runners, have you ever had problems like this with negative thoughts about your training?  Share your thoughts!

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