Playing the mental game

Photo courtesy of madnzany (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of madnzany (Creative Commons)

One of the key things I’m discovering about my marathon training is that the battle is as much mental as physical.

I am learning a different training schedule, with different distances, speeds and activities. That’s difficult for creature of habits, who loves to just do the same thing every day and hardly even think about it. Suddenly I’m planning routes and thinking through which exercises to do with which weight.

I’m also challenged because the weather has not been cooperative lately. Lots of rain at the times I’ve needed to run, so I’m becoming reacquainted with my nemesis, the treadmill. I thought of writing a blog called “The Agony of the Treadmill” but decided that was a bit extreme.

I do find my treadmill workouts less satisfying than the equivalent outdoor workout. The TV seems distracting and annoying, and there isn’t a place to rest a book or magazine on the treadmills at my gym. I find myself staring at the counters, so each mile takes FOREVER.

The biggest mental challenge, however, is the self-doubt. I find myself wondering what on earth I’m doing, and who am I to think I can run 26.2 miles – that’s so much!

Yesterday I ran 13 miles – in pretty good time, and in the rain (well, the last 2 miles). To date, that’s the most I’ve ever run. And I survived. There were some moments about mile 10 and again about mile 12 where I questioned whether I would finish. But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and before I knew it, I was done.

So that’s what we have to keep doing when we have those mental challenges. Put one foot in front of the other. Think one positive thought after another. Cheer one little victory and then one more. And before we know it, we will be successful!

How do you win at the mental games?