Don’t you love when you have an epiphany while running? My epiphany occurred last week after my 22-miler. You’ll recall (or maybe not) that I didn’t listen to my mind during my 22-miler, just my Garmin and my legs. I didn’t want my mind to feed me negative thoughts, tell me to slow down, etc. So, to the best of my ability, I tuned it out (it’s not easy). Then came the epiphany:
mind = subjective
legs = objective
OK, let me explain this one. We all know how powerful the mind is over the body. And we all know how important your mental game is to an endurance race. Sometimes it’s more important than your physical training.
During a race, our mind spews negative thoughts and signals our legs to slow down.
Truth: most of the time, our legs have more gas in the tank than we think.
Before a race, our mind preys on our nervousness and we pace, walk, stretch until go time to make sure our legs are ready.
Truth: our legs are ready. And we waste precious energy by pacing, walking, and stretching.
During the taper period, our mind conjures up phantom pains and we begin to think we are injured.
Truth: you are not injured (it’s the taper crazies!).
The mind seems to be very subjective, don’t you think? So why do we listen to it?
On the other hand, your legs always tell the real deal. Ever have one of those runs where you leave the house thinking this will be the run of your life, only to get slapped with a major case of brick legs? Or sluggish legs? The legs don’t lie.
Which brings up another question. How do you distinguish between the two? Are your legs really tired or is it more mind over body? During training runs, I think this is simple. If you’re not having the best run, take a look at your mindset. Are you feeling meh? Is your mind somewhere else? During races, it becomes a tad more difficult since you’re pushing the pace and your legs may be close to exhaustion. This is the point in most races when people either give up or dig deep.
Come Sunday, I’m digging deep and listening to my legs. They will be my greatest ally (along with my Garmin). And my friend Fatigue 😉
Do you agree? Do you think the mind has more control than we think? For me personally, I know it does. It’s way more mental than physical.
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The more I learn about ultras, the more I believe that my body is capable of so much more than my mind thinks! If some can run the Badwater course TWICE (135 miles each way) in a row, then I can probably manage my Wednesday 9 miler. 🙂
I definitely think a huge portion of the race is mental. That said training usually doesn’t lie. You aren’t going to magically run a ton faster on race day although I know people who have done it! However, failure to complete what you are physically trained to do is a lot of times mental. A lot of times I am my own worst enemy. It is so easy to justify to yourself that you don’t care when things get hard..or maybe that is just me. In some cases I think I psych myself out so badly that I actually perform better in training than in races because I put too much pressure on myself and I am not relaxed.
I think a majority of any sport is mental. You can’t ignore the physical prep and such, but when it comes to racing, as long as you are physically prepped, I really think how it goes for you is determined by your attitude/mental state/etc. Sometimes I have to use mental tricks and such to keep the negative thoughts away, but everytime I’ve been able to do that, its helped so much.
I totally agree about the legs/objective, mind/subjective debate. I’ve always said that so much of marathon training and marathon PR-ing is mental. You know you’ve put the training in and the speed work and the time… and if your legs are going forward and they feel good, turn that brain off. Just do it.
Can’t wait to hear how your race goes!
samantha @ the more i run says
Ahhhh….your ah ha moment is causing me to have an ah ha moment. This was a very timely post that I needed to hear. Thanks for sharing!
You are so right! My brain is by far my worst enemy.
Pink Runner says
mind = subjective legs = objective … sounds like a thing from HLS we should say while we are running! I do remember “NO FREE FOOD” all the time!
Ha! I do too! Although I didn’t listen to “no free food” when I ate cookies in the office kitchen today. Oops.
ooh, great post! I completely agree – running is such a big mind game sometimes, but it’s so easy to forget! Our legs make it so simple, our brains complicate things way too much. So excited for your race!
totally agree! there’s no way i could’ve completed either of my marathons without such mental determination (i’m sure the physical prep helped too though… 🙂 )
best of luck on sunday, kristy – you’ve had such a strong training cycle, you’re going to kill that race, i can feel it!
Have you been constantly checking the weather? How are you feeling? I am so excited for you. If you’re ears are ringing, it’s me talking about you to people!
I’m with you on your way of thinking. I think it’s all mental. Of course, unless you’re not eating enough or sleeping enough… then it’s both mental & physically.
i feel good. weather looks OK for the day of the race but the constant rain has wreaked havoc on the course. parts are underwater and they are re-routing it. ugh!