Our mind can push us further than our body wants to go

I’ve pondered this before but at last weekend’s Fun Run, I was really able to put it to the test and come out a true believer.

When I enter a race, most of the time I have a set of goals that I delegate to that event (over thinker much?). I believe it helps me train, keeps me motivated, keeps me interested and pushes me further than if I just had the same set of motivations for each event.

Last Sunday’s event was no different.

The details were a 10km event around Albert Park Lake. So a 2 loop event. Not my favourite by a long shot. I hate running knowing I still have to double back and do the same again. For those of you who have ran Albert Park you also know it’s flat (as my chest). Which once again isn’t my favourite. It was also a small event – approximately 300 people. Once again not my fave! The odds of falling in with the back of the pack superstars were higher and more likely to mess with my head. But these were the facts and it was up to me to set my goals.

My goals/plan were:

  • Eyes on my lane
  • Focus
  • Run my own race
  • Absolutely no walk breaks
  • Come in at under 70 minutes
  • Focus on breathing when it gets tough
  • Regret nothing at the end

Now I can’t stress enough. These were MY goals. I don’t generally talk times etc. and I believe it can contribute to negative comparisons by others. These were my individual goals and I encourage everyone to have their very own individual goals. Whatever they may be is OK!

Now I’ve done many, many events now ranging from triathlons, to stair climbs, to 5km – 21km run events, and no matter what, I always feel the same way at the start line. During that initial 20 minute wait at the line with all the other runners, I always go through the same motions – ranging from “Oh shit do I need to wee again?” to “I can’t do this! I could be at home in bed” right back around to “Woohoo, lets do this!” These sentiments whoosh around in my head until the horn goes and until I set my Garmin and we are off.

Now when I set my Garmin to on, there must be some type of switch in my brain that also goes off at the same time. It’s kind of an overdrive button where my inner voice grows loud and doesn’t shut the hell up.

During the first 3 kilometres, the inner mean girl spoke out “look at all these people passing you, you are so slow! This is already hurting, no way you can do 10kms today without stopping” As this dialogue ran through my head – I physically felt my shoulders sag and the follow on was my pace slowed.

Your body really does hear and listen to what you tell it.

It was in that very moment that I piped up, went back to my goals (in fact I think I was that weirdo talking to herself out loud)  and said “Not today F**kah! Practice what you preach.” I knew in that moment that I had to change my mind set or quite simply my body would give up.

I started with changing a few physicalities and went back to my goals. Eyes on my lane, focusing on straight ahead, not beside, not who was in front or behind me and I powered on. Running your own race is one thing I find hard to stick to on race day. You are caught up with the event, nerves are high and you start to be more concerned about others’ pace than your own. I knew to beat my goal of 70 minutes and with no walk breaks, I was going to have to rely heavily on sticking to my own race and not use up energy worrying about others.

At one stage I found myself so focused that I missed half a supportive conversation another runner was trying to have with me – I thanked them and explained my self at the finish line!

When my lungs and legs were burning and I was wanting to give in to a walk break, I focused entirely on my breathing pattern and reminded myself that I felt like a walk break back at 3km and had managed to make it a further 5km more without one. My mission was to keep my mind strong and positive when my body was feeling differently!

My mantras consisted of “shut it all out”, ”you are doing this”, “eyes on your lane” , “I will not stop”, and “run your own race”. I will admit that there were a few expletives thrown in there as well.

When I reached the 8km mark and knew there wasn’t much left in the tank, I reminded myself that now was not the time to give up. I had not come this far into reaching my goal to stop. A couple of niggles in my body had become a bit louder and I knew that 100% focus and determination was going to be needed to meet my time goal.

Repeating my positive thoughts to myself to override the physical pain I was able to make it to that finish line with all goals ticked off. Did it hurt? Yes, but I was able to rely on my strong mind to keep going, whereas on another day I might have given in to the voice that said ” Stop”.

Sometimes I become lazy and forget that feeling of pushing myself 110%. The rawness, the elation, the pain, the hard work, the pure satisfaction.

There is nothing like it.

So next time you see a woman running along having a heated conversation with herself, don’t think she is crazy, just know she is a woman on a mission!

Original post by Carin McCoy @edsrunfree