Last evening I had cause to skip about like an excitable spring lamb after a very enjoyable hour and a half jogging past the lambs in the fields adjacent to the quiet country lanes I explored on my run.
“The word ‘enjoyable’ and the phrase ‘an hour and a halfs run’ did not surely just appear in the same sentence did it summerSHINES??”
YEP! blog readers!..because it’s the truth, and I never share anything untruthful in my blog…I actually LOVED my running shoe clad explore of my locality :)
It was a positive turn up for the books, after a decidedly lack lustre run last weekend where I struggled to do a 5k (for mental health/trauma-based reasons). It restored my confidence big time. I ran the furthest last night that I’ve ever run in my 35 years on this planet! 12 k 😁.
The half marathon I’m doing in October is [I think] 21kish in length. (I don’t know the accurate conversion of miles to k’s so am guessing), but last night [I think] I did over half the distance of a half marathon which makes me KNOW I can achieve this goal I set myself. It was also quite a hilly run in places (the HM route is undulating so I need to get used to hills), yet I maintained a decent pace up the hills, and thoroughly did myself proud :) Also the great thing about going up hills, is you get to have much better views and eventually run down them again, which mimics the amazing feeling of freedom when you freewheel down a hill on your push-bike as a kid. Bliss.
I am realising as I work on this fitness challenge how much the battle of running is mental rather than physical. Running is not all about bodies and legs and ankles and knees- it is much about conscious efforts to breath in a particular way, manipulating your running posture to allow maximum air into your lungs and protect your joints, and also most important of all, the content of the commentary that simultaneously runs through your mind while you run.
I am convinced that what separates people in all aspects of life, (including achievements in things like running) is mentality.
Mentality separates those that can, from those that can’t or don’t or won’t even try. Fact.
My mentality was positive and determined last night, despite the fact I’d had a day where I was quite frazzled in mood and PMS-ed up to the max. I decided I would run as far as I could in one direction, with the kind ladies voice on the running app telling me how I was doing and what distance and pace I was managing at five minute intervals. Every five minutes when I’d get the update I’d feel increasingly thrilled. (Since I have never done class A drugs in my life, my thrills come from surpassing my running targets!) :P and I’d tell myself how it would be an even bigger thrill in another five minutes time when the distance was even bigger a number.
I was also motivated to carry on running further, as once I’d gone past the point I usually run I had no idea what would be around the next bend as it was a road I’d never travelled along in my life. That made the run more fun; the novelty of unfamiliar, previously unexplored roads. It is very different to running along a road, thinking…
‘I have driven along this road HUNDREDS of times, in comfort, in a car. I so want a magic car to come and rescue me right now from this unfortunate plight of epic rosy-faced wheeziness.’
So I explored more of Northumberland on foot…(the best way), and what I saw more than made up for my joggers fatigue.
Because I hadn’t run this far ever before, I honestly didn’t know what to expect and how a longer run would feel…I kind of expected the run to get harder and harder and harder till I had to have walk breaks….but what I now know is that when you jog a longer distance, it gets to a certain level of hardness (quite quickly in my case), but then if you keep your pace steady and get into a comfortable stride, it actually (contrary to expectations), doesn’t get any harder than that initial level of hardness. Your ability to remain running is correlated to the extent to which you can tolerate the feeling that running is hard. And what enables you to keep running longer than before is the mantra/commentary in your head which supports your continued efforts to run, rather than scuppering them.
Good runners who run endurance races, are presumably able to run because of the positive self-talk scanning through…commentaries that reassure them there IS more fuel in the tank, that you CAN get up this hill, that you CAN maintain that pace, that you WILL finish the route, that you WILL feel so proud and accomplished at the end, and that it is NOT beyond you; also your ability to notice a negative thought that you are tired, or thoughts like ‘how on earth am I gonna fucking get home’ and mindfully bat that negative ping pong thought ball back over the net to your opponent (the opponent being the voice of pessimistic negativity).
When I was undecided about whether to enter the half-marathon, I realised ‘this is definitely what I want, but I’m not sure if it is doable with my PTSD fatigue/psych meds’…Despite my PTSD, and the energy sapping effect of the anxiety meds though, I now believe after last night that I CAN do this, and I DO have the capability; and the thrill of the challenge is what will make me feel so proud when I achieve it.
A runner friend said that no-one starts off believing they can run a marathon or half marathon with ease…the belief is rather something that builds up gradually in time.
That helped me to know that, as I guess I did used to think marathon runners were a bit strange…like maybe they were born to be marathon runners and had marathon running genes, and marathon runners were a whole different breed to the likes of you or me. Maybe though marathon runners are not physically different, but their difference is solely in their mentality….spectacular mental robustness and a determination to run, run and run some more, even way past the stage where you are even enjoying yourself!
I don’t aspire to run a marathon ever…a half marathon would be my maximum I think, purely because I don’t think I would feel double as satisfied to run a full marathon, or enjoy it much more. Infact I would probably hate a marathon, and I’d have to stop eating as much cake and more protein (which would be dire). What I would like is to be able to do a half marathon, then hopefully run several of them in different locations and become increasingly fast and fit at running them.
I always canvass opinions on decisions and dilemmas I face…the reason being I am always curious how other people will respond to a particular dilemma…which side they will come down on…the positive or the negative. Also I am interested in how people have arrived at their opinions. I canvass opinions because I have always had an enquiring mind, but one that used to border on the slant of depressiveness, so I like to seek out reflections, and cherry pick the most helpful and inspiring statements from the minds of others who are naturally more positive and optimistic than I ever was. I seek out statements or mantras that are novel to me and empowering and energising and positive, enabling my growth- as growth and progress is exactly what I want and where I am heading.
Last night when I ran, I brought to mind the positive things that had been said and reflected on those things.
I know limiting beliefs can only have one outcome…that I will remain limited.
My changes of running for longer, faster and better, and successfully completing the half marathon in a time I’m proud of, will be maximised by adopting a positive ‘can do’ mentality, bolstered by the positivity of my friends that are willing me to do well.
I practised that positivity yesterday on my run, manipulating my positive self-talk, and it paid off. I ran 12 K! Previously my maximum had been 8k, and when I first started running on the 1st January I wondered how I’d ever manage the couch to 5k. I am dead chuffed :)
(I’m aware that blogging about running is probably exceedingly dull to non-runners by the way)…however the mentality aspect of what I’m saying is universal :)
I’m sure we can all relate to the differences in what we have actually achieved at those times where our mentality was self-defeating and self-limiting, and those times we were propelled in a positive direction by positive encouraging inspirational self-talk.
It is like deciding what tape we want to play in our minds. The tape of depression (the black dog loop)
or the happy shiny yellow summerSHINES tape.
What we tell our minds, and the final effect on outcomes and the end consequences, is NOT just bollocks. It is a real psychological thing. I don’t need to cite hundreds of psychological studies to prove what I’m saying-what I am saying is pretty common sense and well known. True story.
If you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you most likely won’t.
The only time this does not apply is with deluded X-factor or Big Brother contestants (!) But there is always an exception to any rule of thumb ;)
I don’t deny I am achey today, but so what!…I smashed a huge psychological barrier last night; and because I now know I can do 12k, I know that I can inevitably do it again, and again and again, and then further…then faster…!!
I feel fabulous right about now, and I think I’m more than earned a day of chilling out today. I’ll do a sharpie post later on, eat my fave foods and watch my fave programmes and sit in the spring sun and just feel grateful to have reinforced a positive pathway in my mental-health recovery brain…one that tells me I CAN do this…just like the mentality that I know I will recover from my PTSD and BPD. Mentality is everything. And passion fruit cheesecake was my reward ;)