Mind Games

dreamstime_xl_55278287Endurance running has taught me an important life skill. When I am running, I usually always want to quit because I hate (love) it so much. So I stay on my feet, I engage in a little self-trickery.

Today I had my first “outside run” since I got back on the running-wagon. All of my reconditioning at this point has been on the treadmill. I found running outside significantly more difficult mainly because of the hilly terrain in my neighborhood. Having practiced running for nearly 3 months on a treadmill, I was very depressed by how difficult the run was for me. I wanted to quit and came close a few times.

To survive, I had to fall back on something my former coach (from the American Cancer Society’s endurance team, DetermiNation) taught me. At the time, I was obese and had just quit a 20-year smoking habit. Running for more than just a few minutes was very hard for me. During my first few runs, Coach Jenn suggested that every time I wanted to quit to instead pick a landmark further ahead that I would run to before stopping – then I would be allowed to stop. Once I got to the landmark, she asked me to re-assess my feelings. Could I make it to the next tree or the next lamppost? While there were times I did stop running for a few minutes, most of the time I would keep running.

On the treadmill, I play the same game with minutes: Can I run 2 more minutes? 3 more? 10 more? I find that this mind-game helps me press my limits in all areas of my life. On healthy eating choices, this mind game has helped me give sugar, most grains and alcohol the boot over the last 26 days. There were many temptations along the way. I just told myself: get through this one party, this one client meeting, just this one meal or day. By applying this skill to school, work and even relationships, I’ve learned that if I can master this powerful mind game, I can get through anything painful.

So, I made it through two miles today. I reflect on Jake the Dog’s encouraging worldly advice, “Sucking at something is the first step towards being sorta good at something.” While I have a lot of work to do before I am ready to run the Mighty Mac on Labor Day, fortunately I have a few mind-tricks up my sleeve so I can put in the miles to prepare!

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