Long runs have always intimated me. When I was first starting running for my colleges cross country team, my long run was 7 miles. The night before for my first scheduled 7 mile run, I remember being nervous, scared and didn’t know if I could do it. I was psyching myself out before the run started.
The morning before I ate breakfast, motivated myself and set out. I was doing an out and back (out 3.5 for the local YMCA and back). I made it the first half. The second half really flew by. Despite being terribly nervous beforehand, I finished my long run. I had been nervous for nothing, I did it.
Fast forward to my first 10 mile long run. I knew dad was going to do a 10 mile on Christmas Day in 2010. I had never done ten miles before. I remember hearing stories about how dad would just run for 10…15…even 20 miles! Oh my stars! I decided I was going to run this ten miles with dad. On Christmas morning we set out together (for a typical run for him and my longest run). Once again, I was nervous beforehand. I psyched myself out and almost didn’t go. Then I motivated myself. The run itself went by quickly and before I knew it we were back at our driveway. Once again, I had conquered the long run.
In April 2011, I ran my first half marathon (My first run over 10 miles). I remember being terribly nervous. I remember not knowing how it would go. I had run 3, 10 mile runs beforehand (including the one previously mentioned). I psyched myself out. My mind raced with, what if I can’t? What if my legs collapse? How will I do this?
The answer was…just keep running. I just kept running and eventually I finished. I finished with a huge smile on my face. 13 miles of smiling.
After my half marathon I had a huge mental block with long runs. I thought if I ran over a certain amount of time, I might peel over and just collapse. For a while I had those feelings towards running more than 2 hours. For a long time, I feared I just collapse on spot at 2:00.01. There was never a need for me to run that long so I didn’t. I stayed happy with training for half marathons.
Then I broke 1:25 in a half marathon and I decided to train for a full marathon. I began running longer and further. It was scary. I had a huge mental block with running 20 miles. I knew my marathon would take over 2 hours and knew I must conquer it. Once again, I knew it was a threshold I must cross to complete a marathon. The night before my first 20 miler, I allowed myself to be nervous but I knew I was ready.
Toeing the line at NYCM, I knew I was going to run further than I ever had before. I was ready to run. Nerves got the bests of me the night before but I knew I was ready to run. I didn’t sleep a lot the night before (granted I also had to be up at 3:30) but I knew I was ready to run. The last few miles were questionable but I finished with the biggest smile on my face. I had completed my longest long run.
It was 100% mental. Running itself is at least half mental. Even if your body is physically ready to run, if you are not mentally, then you won’t go anywhere. You could psych yourself out of a great run, race or life moment.
I guess now you could say I have that same mental block about running an ultra marathon. Will I peel over at 26.3 miles? Who knows, but there isn’t a need or a want for me to run that far right now.
Question for you: What mental blocks have you gotten over with running or with life?