You see I used to HATE running. Seriously. I didn’t just hate running. I abhorred it. Running had been a constant in my life throughout middle school and high school but it was on the sidelines and the sport (tennis, softball, soccer, and volleyball) was the main event. To ensure this I picked positions like sweeper and catcher that involved very little running.
Then one day a very good friend of mine, my deploymate Toni, came to me with a question. She wanted me to help her run 3 miles. She was from a small mid-west town, hadn’t played sports in high school and had never run a day in her life. She wanted to be able to run three miles before her husband came home from Afghanistan. She dreamed of joining him on his runs and having yet another way to spend time and bond with her husband.
Around the same time I was invited by another friend to join a free running club created by Stephanie Geraghty called Stroller Warriors. The team atmosphere at Stroller Warriors got me hooked immediately. I loved that my daughter was also included in the team and I didn’t have to leave her with a sitter or the CDC.
Stephanie quickly became not only a good friend but also my running mentor. The first very important lesson Stephanie taught me is that RUNNING IS A MENTAL SPORT. How much you like running ALL boils down to what you think about when you run.
So I set out to find out how to conquer this mental sport of running. I talked with Stroller Warriors I admired to find out what they thought about when they were running. Some made their mind blank and empty letting thoughts in but quickly ushering them back out. Some prayed. Some focused on positive things like how happy they were that their limbs moved and their lungs worked. I tried all of their techniques and to my surprise ALL of them worked! Whenever I caught myself thinking negatively I would consciously focus on changing my thought patterns.
Very quickly one mile melted into five, which turned into eight then ten. I happily signed up for and completed my first mud run, 5k, half marathon and marathon. I. Was. Hooked. I had fallen in love with running.
Just changing what I thought about when I ran, and running with other women, had turned running into MORE than running. It was socializing, bonding, venting, and rejoicing. I would return home from runs happy, tension free, glowing, and ready to tackle all of the demands that came with marriage and motherhood.
When my husband left for another deployment he left an empty space in my heart and in my life. I was sad but I knew I needed to be strong for myself, my daughter and for him. Marathon training filled that hole a little bit. When I was out on my long runs I would imagine his combat boots pounding the pavement next to my sneakers. Sometimes it would make me cry. He would feel so close yet I knew he was so far away. My motto during my long runs and during the marathon was that if he can do 8 months in austere front-line conditions I can do 26.2. Running was right I CAN do 26.2. I crossed the finish line of my first marathon less than 9 months after the first day I started to run.
I challenge you to take a look at what you are thinking about when you are running. Are your thoughts happy and positive? Or are they negative and self critical? Make a conscious effort to think about your thoughts and change them if they are negative. It will make a world of difference in your running.
Post below and let us know what you think about when you run!