Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's All In the Mind...Or Stomach.

I just ran 16 miles this past Sunday, aided by the New York Road Runners' awesome Long Training Run #2 which simulates a race environment with Gatorade and water on the course, mile markers, pacers, and recovery foods at the end (mmm....pretzels...helps with the profuse sweating...yum!) I was further aided by the company of my long-time friend and first Roomie ever, Jen. You may have heard of Jen before, as she has a lot babies and runs a lot of marathons. My definition of a lot is "two."

Okay, so great. Ran 16. Whoopie, you all know that this is happening. I'm gonna keep running more and more miles until I either run a Marathon or lose my mind. Whichever comes first. I'm not sure it's the sheer distance at this point, though, that matters. It's how you get there. Right? Right.

I read an article from Runner's World last week on overcoming mental blocks for running. While somewhat interesting, I couldn't help but wonder --as I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw -- are these so-called "mental blocks" really what keep people from running? Are they what challenge me as I run?

Here are what they classify as mental blockers along with my commentary.

Faster Runners. I mean, I guess if you're like, the #4 Olympian and you'd like to medal, this would be a mental block. But as I usually come in 10,000 or so out of a 20,000 person race...intimidation by those faster than me has kind of had to go out the window.

A tough course. Like...I'm not running in the Alps.

People who train more. Are cool? I guess this used to be kind of intimidating to me, but once you wear a boot your whole perspective on life changes. Feel free to run more than me. I would like to remain in my normal everyday shoes. Which are Dr. Scholl's. Comfort > Fashion. But I digress.

The idea of a first race. They mean the first type of race. Like, a first half marathon. Or a first marathon (as in my case). I don't think this is a mental block though. Because this is what I'm trying to it's more of a motivator than a block. I think that there is merit in this for your first 5K or 10K or Half Marathon for sure. But at a certain point you're just doing this to yourself.

Entering a Mega-Race. A-la the New York City Marathon (as opposed to small-town race or something). Fine, that's a big deal but I'm relatively sure that I'm not going to be the focus of National TV or in the newspapers or something. Mostly because I am not that pretty when I run. I'm not this guy:
 Saying "I'm a Runner." Clearly not an issue for me. I write a damn blog about it for goodness sakes. I'm not exactly closeted about this fact.

They finish by suggesting that you "rewire your brain" to get beyond your fears. And that you should worry about the process rather than the outcome of the race. Solid advice, but a little too theoretical rather than practical for my taste. Also, the "process"? That sounds really great in theory or in a Runners' World article, but in practice? I am finishin' the damn race. Just saying.

Okay, so here are MeriG's suggestions for mental blocks and how one might overcome them:

Block #1: Fitting Running Into Your Schedule. Okay, so figure you'll do a weekend long run, but you need at least a couple during the week, plus time to do one or two classes or other cross-training at minimum. So you've really got two options: morning or after work. After work is cool and all, but can really dip into time to eat and drink and socialize with friends. And doing both I find to be very tricky if you have to work past 6 pm. So if you're like me, you're left with mornings. Which means you have to get up early. Like, real early. And that sucks. So your next step is to get a cat.

That's right, you heard me, a cat.

Because a cat does not let you sleep in. Because cats can be real jerks.

Problem solved. You're welcome.

Block #2: But I'm tirrrrrreeddddd.
If you run a marathon you can basically eat whatever you want and not gain wait. And you'll probably get some ab muscles. Stop your whining and put on your shoes. And then go get a slice of pizza and some Godivas.

Block #3: I'm Slow.
I bet you can find someone slower to pass and then you'll feel faster. It's really all about being better than at least someone else. Write that down.

If you're not a vindictive person, here's another approach: pretend you're winning and that's half the battle.

Block #4: I can't run that far without stopping.
Run / walk in intervals and gradually change the run / walk ratio over time. Or get a cat. Either one.

Block #5: My legs and feet hurt when I run and that makes me sad.
Get yourself some good shoes, an ice pack, and some IB Profin and stop your bitchin.' I will also refer you back ot the "you can eat whatever you want" clause.

Note: This clause actually does change over time and you will have to start wtaching what you eat once your body gets used to running a certain distance. But at the beginning? It's like piggy central! Go for the gold! Enter an eating contest! The world is your oyster!

Block #6: But What If I Look Dumb?
You'll be fine. Buy yourself some new clothes at Gap Body or -- dare I say it -- Lululemon (you know the devil wears it, right?) and get out there. I promise you that there will be someone who looks worse than you.

Damn it, why can't I be nice to others! Maybe this is a mental block of my own...

Hope you found this uplifting and helpful. Now get out there, champs. There's eating to be done!

I mean running! There's running to be done!

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