This next week is a big one for me. I will be competing in my very first full marathon on Sunday, January 27 as I run the Carlsbad Marathon--26.2 miles of fun as I run many of my miles along the coast of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. For the last three months, in addition to my normal weekly miles, I added long weekend runs. I have done the work and proven to myself that I can actually run 20 miles (twice) and not collapse in exhaustion. I was pleasantly surprised that after that many miles I was able to walk the next day without much of a limp. In fact, the next day after my first 20-miler I was actually able to do a 32 mile bike ride. So I was very surprised this evening when I began to once again experience those familiar feelings of doubt. What if my small nagging aches keep me from running? What if I really can't add the extra six miles to the twenty I have already proven I can do? What if I don't bring the right nutrition and I hit a wall...and the list goes on and on.
I honestly wish that sometimes I could turn my brain off, but I know that I need to learn to work through these difficult times so I can be both physically and mentally tough for my races. I decided to do a little research today, because I am sure that some of you have had the same experience with an overactive mind. In my search I came across an article from Runner's World that really gave me some inspiration. Not every section of this article pertained to me, but I did find some words of wisdom to help me work through my doubt. Overcoming Mental Blocks covers topics such as people who stress about runners that are faster than they are, those that worry about tough courses or first races, but what I found most helpful was this quote from Doug Hankes, Ph.D., a sports psychologist for the athletic department at Auburn University. He shares, "The essence of mental training is getting your head out of the way and letting your body do what it's trained for." This just gave me that extra reminder that I have done all the work to prepare for a full marathon--I just need to let my mind concentrate on enjoying the experience and let my body take over. It knows what to do.
So over the next week I will be flexing my mental muscles and making them think only positive thoughts about Sunday's race. I planned, I trained, and I will conquer this next step on my road to becoming an Ironman. I will repeat over and over, "Get out of my way mind, my body is ready to take over now!"