Thursday, February 18, 2010

That nasty little voice

A few months ago, I discovered a quote that has become one of my all time favourites. I've used it ad nauseum in my childbirth classes, and it has a special significance right now given that absolute magnitude of the challenge I've placed upon myself. Here's what it says: "It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually, you learn that competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit." This pearl of wisdom is courtesy of the late George Sheehan and probably the most accurate description of the importance of mental strategies to succeed at running (as a matter of fact, it can be applied to anything in life). I had to pull heavily on it this morning.

I woke up feeling very anxious that today was one of my running days. Even last night, I could feel myself getting anxious at the thought of my morning run. Instead of looking forward to it, I was feeling a sense of dread. I heard it would be snowing, I was thinking of the physical discomfort I feel when running and my mind spiralled into negative thoughts. This morning, I was tired and feeling down and the thought of having to go run was stressing me out. I think the pressure of making my commitment public is getting to me. Thankfully, I knew that this is a very normal pattern for me. When things get tough, I have a tendency to panic, stop dead in my tracks, turn around, dive under the covers and....quit. But I knew that today quitting was not an option. I have to stick to my training if I want to make it to the starting line.

So I put my clothes on, trying to shut down my thoughts, put the kids on the bus, and inspired by the prowess of another of our Olympic Athletes, I started my run. I was about 400 meters in the run, when I started huffing and puffing. My legs were very sore and I wondered how on earth I was going to keep running. Enter George Sheehan and his weapon of a quote. I decided to ignore the nasty little voice that wants me to quit. The voice that has had the upper hand many times in my life when challenges prove a little bit more difficult and uncomfortable to my sense of safety. Any time my thoughts entered the negative, self-sabotage zone, I thought of the quote and kept running. It was a difficult run, with snowy and slippery roads. I had to walk three times to catch my breath but eventually completed a 6.82 km run in about 45 mn.

I'd like to say that I feel fantastic and incredible. I don't. I'm scared that the current physical limitations of my body are going to prevent me from running 21.1 km. I'm scared that the nasty little voice will get the best of me and that I will quit even before race day.

The only strategy I have right now is to focus on one run at a time and not judge my performance. It is what it is. I did the best that I could do today.

The good news is that in just one week, I have ran 4 times for a total of a little over 27 km. That's more than I did two weeks ago and it's progress that I can't ignore.

1 comment:

  1. You are amazing! That is such a huge achievement, honestly just taking the dog for a walk today was enough for me, the weather is foul! You should be so proud of yourself for even contemplating running today. If you can get yourself out there today, when it is freezing, windy and snowing you will certainly be able to do it in May! BTW for me running 1km would be a massive achievement so running over 6 seems like a marathon to me, it is all about perspective. Well done you!