It’s taken me a while to discover, but I think Saturday was when the idea hit home. Positive thinking, or in my case, lack of negative thoughts, can have a major impact on how a workout goes. Case and point: my 20 mile long run. Ask any of my running buddies, they’ll tell you I have the worst habit of of complaining the entire long run making comments like “This sucks,” “I’m not running another marathon again,” “F*** this hill,” and “I give up.” While most of the time I’m being slightly sarcastic, there is a hint of truth and honesty coming out when I say these things. I don’t usually say things that I don’t believe; I consider myself to be incredibly terrible at lying.
Saturday 20 miles was on the agenda. We received an email from our training coach suggesting we change our frame of mind during these runs. My running buddy Mary and I bet at the start of the run that I should be positive the entire time. A challenge for me, sure, but I was up for it. 20 miles is around 3 hours of running, which is a long time, seemingly longer if you are having a negative experience. I started to think about the run in more manageable chunks; in addition to the sunshine and lack of my negative comments, I cannot emphasize how incredibly well this run went for me.
Our training run was set up along the Flying Pig Marathon course. This helped to chunk up the run. The first 3-4 miles flew by because I knew there’d be a water stop halfway up one of the most brutal elevation climbs of the run. I knew the hydration would be refreshing and then realizing we were almost 25% through the run was a helpful thought. I then started thinking about how our next water stop was by Owls Nest park, again, something that felt like a very short distance away in a neighborhood I am familiar with. It was also helpful to tell myself the major hill climbs for the run would be over when we got to the next water stop. I had some incredibly refreshing margarita shot blocks to eat for fuel and kept going. This next chunk of the run was even easier to think positively about. We ran through the neighborhood I live in, by many friends houses, and then the next water stop was around the block from my parents house. The sun was completely out and the day felt great. I had been taking it easy and still thinking positively. I realized at this point we were over half way to 20. I then started thinking about where the next water stop was–about a 5k away. Obviously that felt manageable to think about that distance and we had a nice downhill to lead us there. My pace got a little faster, I was feeling great! Before I knew it, we were at the next water stop. Seeing one of our training coaches passing out water, in addition to the realization we only had 3-4 miles until the final water stop motivated me to continue to increase my pace. It was flat the rest of the way, and the views of the Ohio River only helped with the positive experience of the run. We reached the final water stop at the Purple People Bridge and I realized we were a 5k away from 20 miles. Amazing! I picked up the pace a little bit more and powered my way to the finish.
Compartmentalizing this run into manageable bits and pieces, in addition to lack of negative comments are reasons I am sure this run went so flawlessly. Most long runs don’t go well for me and I can’t pinpoint anything other than the power of positivity as the only difference. I ate the same breakfast before, I fueled during the run the same way, and I wore the same clothes I always wear. I replaced my negative comments with positive ones, like “We got this guys,” and “We’re killing it, almost there.” Good conversation helps too.
What I’ve realized is that the way you frame your mind before, during, and after a tough challenge, in my case it’s usually a long run or race, can really make all the difference in how the experience goes. It’s something that I’ve taken a long time to notice and didn’t truly hit home until Saturday, but I’m glad that it has. It are these types of realizations that are impacting the way I view yoga as well. I used to say I hate it. I haven’t grown to love it yet, but I can certainly appreciate it. It’s a time that forces me to slow down and focus on stretching and forget everything else. While I sometimes find myself getting bored during a yoga class, I am realizing what I might view as boredom could really just be a sign I need to take time to sit with my thoughts and be more mindful. The day I decide I like or even love yoga, I’ll certainly tell you all about it.
I am looking forward to a great weekend in DC next week. I’ve heard the cherry blossoms are already out and I’ll be joining the FAnnetastic-Cabot Cherry Blossom Team with my running buddy Mary for a #CabotFit filled weekend. I can’t wait to try these new positive thinking practices during the 10 mile race. I plan to study to course map and am hoping to have quick legs and a great time. It’ll be a good practice race in preparation for the Kentucky Derby Marathon April 3oth!