February 14, 2012

Battling my Brain

Running hasn't always been easy for me. I only started a couple of years ago and the initial difficulties were in the physical pain, from injured knees to general fitness issues that manifested in aching limbs and fiery lungs. However I persevered and grew stronger physically and since then my regular training runs have been (fairly) easy... until now.
For a long time running was the thing that helped me deal with challenges and gave me time to think. But right now everything is going my way in life and I'm happy....
....and for some reason this seems to be making my running more difficult. I have nothing to fight though, nothing is making me so angry that I need to sprint through it and conquer my mind with burning lungs and heavy legs. On long runs I used to plan things and think through conversations and strategies. I'd think about friendships that were in turmoil and go through my options of saving them or letting them go. Basically the reason I started running was that I had a lot to think about.
I'm thankful that my life has settled down a lot since then, but it left my head with a lot less to contemplate. During that time the 2011 challenge became part of my mentality, something to strive towards and focus on. As a result my weekly running target was always a set total but I could regularly do more, and that in itself was a positive influence on my life.
This year however I'm in marathon training and I've never done anything like it. The requirements of the plan I chose are steep to say the least and, although I don't think I chose a particularly difficult plan, the km/week requirement makes my 2011 challenge seem like a walk in the park! Not being able to keep up with the plan in itself is having a negative affect on my mindset.
Then there's the 'Long Slow Run'..... Oh my word!!!
The long slow run has increased through the course of my training, however as it turns out, it's not the distance that's doing me in right now. I started off my LSRs in the company of the Sweatshop running club on a Sunday morning by running to them, with them, and then back home to make up the distance I needed. Then I started running with Lou who is a great running partner! She runs long distance, naturally on a negative split (which is awesome), and is great company all the way. But now, here I am in hilly Texas which feels like a million miles away from Lou and our random adventures along the flat city streets, muddy riverside trails and the York-Selby cycle path.
The long run is becoming a nemesis that has started to get the better me. Without the company of fellow runners it is becoming increasingly difficult, especially as (in order to stay safe) my route is either 2 or 3 loops of the same road, and the same big hills again and again. I seem to be talking myself out of everything and losing confidence, often within the first few miles and it's as if the foundations I've built aren't even there right now.
However part of me understands that these runs are supposed to challenge me, and no-one ever said this was going to be easy! On the day I'm hoping that the race environment will keep me going and that I'll be distracted by other runners and spectators, but I need to be ready to run the distance alone. These training runs are designed to prepare me. They will challenge me to be strong both physically and mentally, and to be able to do the distance without encouragement from spectators, friends or family.
The challenge now is both to be strong, and to grow stronger...


  1. this is where my Dad would have said self-discipline is the key...I don't have much...you've got tons!

  2. You can do it Shona - you have already proved that you can x

  3. I'm sorry it's been a struggle to train lately.... I think a lot of runners go through some difficult/non-motivating times during marathon training (I know I have). And don't worry - I'm sure race day will be a whole different experience. You'll have people cheering you on and you'll be doing the thing you've been training so hard to do. I hope you do great -- Looking forward to reading about it after it's over!


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