I realized as I ran that I was feeding my pain. Thinking about it was making my pain stronger and more intense. I remembered a scientific study I read one time where scientists took runners and put them on the treadmill and measured their oxygen consumption as well as their biomechanics. They then had someone with a clipboard give the runner either positive or negative feedback. If you were a subject who got positive reinforcement they’d tell you that you had great form or that you were running really efficiently (whether or not you actually were). If you were a subject who was to get negative reinforcement they’d tell you that you had bad form or offer suggestions for fixing your form to make it more efficient (whether or not any of this was true). What they found is that if you were given positive reinforcement your whole demeanor shifted. You started running a little taller and with a little pep in your step. Your form improved, and your oxygen consumption improved. You began to be what they had said right down to the molecular level. They found the same to be true of those who got negative feedback. Whether or not those runners had been running well before, they, after getting negative reinforcement ran less efficiently, and with worse form than they had before.
I decided to think of a mantra for me to say. Something I could grind into my head so strongly there’d be no more room for my pain. It doesn't really matter what mantra you pick as long as it is present tense and positive, it should do the trick. What I settled on for this particular race was, “I am an endurance athlete.” With every step I said a word and I repeated this mantra over and over and over and over.
The take away for me from this race is that we can all alleviate our suffering a little bit with our mind. We can lighten our load by the specific things we chose to focus on.
This is a valuable lesson, not just for running, but also for life.