When Experience Saves Me From Freaking Out

Its funny how I still have a hard time calling myself a runner. I've been running for the past four years and nine months now, but I still have a very difficult time adding myself to the list of long time runners, eight minute milers, and multi-marathon finishers. However, in the past four plus years I've run a lot and as I start to ramp up the marathon training my experience has taught me to stay calm and relaxed in moments when I'm sure I would freak out in the past.

Right now I just texted Tom to ask him if he could check the freezer at home for my ice pack. My shin splints are making a come back and I know that I only need to ice and wear my compression sleeves and I'll be totally fine. Been there, done that, thanks experience!

Saturday is my first eight mile run of the year and the beginning of the long runs in the training plan. My shortest long run won't dip below eight miles for the next 13 weeks. Usually, this is the time in the plan that I start freaking out. Freaking out that I won't be able to finish, freaking out about getting too tired and cramping, freaking out about getting injured. That's old news now. I'm looking forward to Saturday's eight miler and the following Saturday's ten miler. I'm not intimidated any more - I'm  respectful of the distance, but I'm not sweating throughout the night with my stomach in a tight ball of anxiety worrying about it. All I know is that I just have to put one foot in front of the other and to be in the moment.

I've been reading 'Running With The Mind of Meditation' by Sakyong Mipham (stay tuned for a full review of the book). One of the main points I've taken with me from his book is to be in the moment during a run. I used to start thinking about miles six and seven while I was only on mile two. My brain would start to freak out about that distance ahead of me and I wouldn't focus on the present. I've been running my long runs lately in each mile. I only think about the mile I'm in - even if I'm tired and I don't know how I'd finish, I only think about the place I'm in. That thoughtfulness has kept me focused and calm and able to complete the distances that seemed to far when I started. My mantra is, "Be Present & Just Run."

I've also learned from experience that even if I have a bad run it doesn't mean that the next run will be bad. Or if I have an off week of running, that doesn't mean that all my runs the next week will be bad. I've learned that each run is specific to itself and how that run goes depends on how I'm feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

I haven't started freaking out about the marathon only because I think I know how it will go: I will train, I will be sore and stiff, but I have my foam roller, app for stretching, and The Ultimate Yogi to get me through the pain. I know I will hit the wall at some point and feel like I won't be able to finish, but I will train my mind to push through it and finish. I have the mental experience to know that I can accomplish what I've started no matter how hard it is and no matter how slow I go, because in the end, all I'm really doing is just putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over again. It will be incredibly hard, but belief in my training will get me through it.

There comes a moment when you just have to trust yourself. Trust in your training, trust in your nutrition, trust in your choices to go to bed on a Friday night at 9:30pm instead of going out with your friends. Other than the support from my friends and family, there are four things I need to get me through the marathon: belief in my training, belief in my nutrition, belief in my recovery, and belief in myself. After that, all I have to do is just enjoy the run.