It’s Mostly Mental

There’s lots of ‘wisdom’ out there about what training for a marathon is like. 
It’s a big commitment.
It’s hard.
It separates the serious from the not so serious.
It takes over your life.
It’s crazy…

I agree with all of these to some extent, but the one thing that I agree with fully is that it is mostly mental.  Don’t get me wrong.  You MUST put in the work but part of what keeps me on track to put in the work is my attitude about it.  Some weeks my head is just not into it and it shows up in my runs.

My biggest mental challenge in training for this marathon was today.  I RAN EIGHTEEN MILES ON THE TREADMILL.  You read it right.  I ran 18 miles on the treadmill today.

Looks like fun, huh?

My plan for today was 17 miles, but I wanted to push it to 18 just because…  I made that decision last week and then I realized the weather was heading south – or north, whatever.  It was 65 degrees on Tuesday and by Thursday, the high was 30 degrees.  Ugh.  So, it started snowing, the wind was blowing kind hard and it was pretty clear that an outside run wasn’t going to happen.  Now, I’ve got to wrap my mind around either postponing my run til Saturday morning or running on Friday – ON THE TREADMILL.

I don’t like running on Saturday mornings so…

It was soooooo hard to get out of the bed and get going this morning.  I planned to get up and out the door by 8, then 9, then 10.  I finally headed out the door to the gym at 11:30.  When I got into the parking lot, I sat in the car for 10 minutes – stalling.  I was NOT looking forward to this run.  I mean, I am never really looking forward to my long runs but today, I just had an extra sense of dread.  I really, really didn’t want to do this run on the treadmill.

But anyway, I went in and after peeling off and putting all of my cold weather clothes in a locker:  track pants, sweatshirt, jacket, earmuffs, gloves, scarf… I picked a front row, end treadmill and headed ‘out’ for my run.  The first couple of miles were okay.  I started getting bored around 4 miles.  Not good. So. Not. Good.

Then I noticed a kind of middle-aged muscley guy looking at me.  I didn’t think it was in a ‘let’s hook up’ kind of way.  I figured he was looking out of some curiosity – of what, I wasn’t sure.  At about 5-1/2 miles, It was kind of obvious that he was looking at me.  He walked over and pointed to his watch like he wanted to say something to me so I took my earbud out and we had a short conversation:

Guy:  You’ve been on there for a long time.
Me:  (Deciding to mess with his head)  Yeah – I’ve only got 12 more miles to go.
Guy:  (Looking shocked – which was my only reason for telling him about the 12 miles)  What?  Are you kidding?
Me:  No, I wish I was.  I’ve got 12 more miles to go. 
Some other random guy:  Are you for real?  How far have you run already?
Me:  Yeah – I’m for real.  I’ve run 5.77 so far, so I guess I have a little over 12 to go.
SORG:  You are running 18 miles on the treadmill?
Me:  Yep.  Check back in a couple of hours.  I’ll still be here.
Guy:  So, I’m not even gonna ask.  How old are you? (So much for not asking…)
Me:  48 – I don’t mind saying (It’s not a big deal to me.)
Guy:  WHAT?  I would have guessed like 35.  Wow.
Me:  (In my head – so… is he lying and he thought  I was gonna be older?)  Y’all just gave me life for another couple of miles.  Thanks!


It was such a coincidence that I had this exchange today.  I was reading a comment on the National Black Marathoner’s Association Facebook page about how a man had conversations at the gym about how long he was running on the treadmill.  When I read it, I though “Hmm.  No one ever asks me about my runs when I’m at the gym”.  And voila!  Someone asked.

I did have a little more pep in my step for a little while after talking to those guys.  It could have been the excitement from the short convo or it could have been the pressure of announcing how far I was gonna go.  I couldn’t quit now.  Yay.

Rest assured, though.  After a few more miles on the dang treadmill, I wanted to quit.  It became a mental battle to not quit.  Like my husband said to me when we were talking about this run later, it’s not like running on the street where you’re miles from home and you have to get back to somewhere anyway.  My car was literally 100 feet away.  I could see it from the treadmill.  All I had to do was hit ‘stop’, step off and head for the car. (Well, after collecting my two bag loads of clothes from the locker.)  I could put myself out of my misery just like that.

But no…  Remember?  It’s mostly mental.  I seriously needed to keep my head into it. I kept saying stuff like this to myself:

I’ll feel crappy if I quit.
It’s only another hour…
People are watching me. (Okay, I knew no one was watching me – or were they?…)

You get the point.  I usually don’t fall for my mind games, but today it worked.  I could NOT quit.

Must. keep. going.

By the way, the guy who talked to me came by and talked to me again.  He looked at the treadmill time but it was after I’d run the max 99 minutes and I’d had to start over.

I told him “Oh, you know the treadmill will only let you go 99 minutes per cycle.?” 
He said, “No.  I did not know that.” 
Me in my head:  Hahahahahaha!  Of course, you didn’t.
Then he said “You’re making me feel like an inferior athlete.” 
I assured him there was no reason for that, but I did privately get a kick out of it.  I never call myself an athlete.  I think of myself as someone who runs. 

The last 6 miles were especially terrible.  My phone died, so my NIke+ program was gone.  My music was gone.  Not good.  I had such a hard time getting these last miles done.  I need music.  I was panicking that I’d lose my run on Nike+ (which is a big deal – you don’t mess with my NIke+ run record!)

But I still finished.  I was SO happy and relieved.  I felt like a big tire full of bricks had been lifted from around my neck.  Yesssss!

It really is mental, though.  My body wasn’t all THAT tired.  I never struggled with my breath.  I was just bored out of my mind and didn’t want to be there.  I did it, though.  All that mumbo jumbo talking positive stuff really works.  Who knew?

I ran EIGHTEEN miles on the treadmill.  I kinda like saying that.

Crazy Lady with Googly Eyes

Until next time!

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