Running Questions – What are you thinking about?
Running a Marathon, a 50k, or 100 miles…each race starts with that very first step. The first physical act of running is usually followed closely by the first mental challenge. “Wow I’ve got a long way to go.” I’ve raced at the marathon distance or greater 35 times…and yet each time I cross the starting line I’m challenged by the same thought. “Wow, I’ve got a long way to run.”
My blog is approaching four years old. When I started I thought for sure no one would ever read it or want my opinions, seek out my advice or ask me questions about running. After all I’m just a middle of the pack runner. BUT in these fours year I’ve been surprised at just how many people connect with me via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my blog seeking advice.
One of the most commonly asked questions is, What do you think about during a long race?
My quick off the cuff answer to this question is, “I think about nothing and everything all at the same time.” During the middle miles of a race or when I’m not so focused on the number of miles to go I tend to zero in on things other than the race. I go fishing, mentally. I day dream or get lost in solving a problem, working on a project or reviewing in my mind how I plan to tackle something. For the times when I’m trapped within the race, I think about two things: Staying in the moment and Seeing the finish.
When my mind won’t allow me to go into my zone, when I’m stuck “within” the race I manage the mental challenge by:
STAYING IN THE MOMENT: I don’t care how you slice it a marathon, a 50k or 100 miles is a very long way to run. Saying that, each mile is still just that, only a mile. It’s the same 5280 feet you ran when you began running and it’s the same mile you ran during your last training run. To get to the end of a very long race you must run each mile and stay in the moment. It might sound crazy, but I’m not sure I can run 100 miles. BUT I have finished two 100 mile races running just 1 mile 100 times.
SEEING THE FINISH: When stuck within the confines of the race when I need to think about something other than the next step or the mile that I’m running I focus on the finish. I visualize the finish over and over in my mind. I see myself crossing the finish line and accepting the medal or 100 mile buckle. I live this finishing scene over and over in my mind; I believe this allows me to believe I will make it to the end. This also allows me to see my goal come to pass and reaffirms that I can accomplish what I set out to do.
I once heard a very prophetic statement: “How do you eat an elephant? The answer is simple, one bite at a time.” I truly believe that in life and likewise in long distance running that statement is 100% true. Any major task or long race can be overcome and finished if you do not get lost in the scale of the challenge and tackle the task one bite or one mile at a time.
What do you think about during your long runs, and or races? Tell us about it.