Mental Toughness: Send Some My Way

Last May, when I crossed the finish line at The Bayshore Marathon, I cried. A lot. I had finished in a time of 3:38:59. The time I needed to qualify for Boston was 3:40. I cried because even though I had “qualified” for Boston, I knew that my time wasn’t going to get me a spot in the race. All of my family members that were there to cheer for me were very confused. My sister asked, “Why are you crying?!?! You did it! You qualified for Boston!” My response was, “Because I’m not going to get in and I never want to have to do this again. I don’t want to run that fast. It was so hard.”

Fast forward 8 months to now. 

I am officially 2 weeks into round two of training to attempt at getting into Boston. Saturday was my first scheduled “at pace” run. It was only 4 miles, so I honestly wasn’t that worried about it. 

Then, around 10 AM I got the following text from my sister, Rondi, who is training “with” me from afar. 

Upon reading the text, I immediately flashed back to round one of training and remembered feeling that exact way. So, I was quick to respond with that information and assure her that it was somehow going to be possible. And that these pace runs were nothing more than a mental challenge. 

Then, Saturday afternoon I hopped on the treadmill for my run. I started out with a 1/2 mile warm up at a nice, easy pace. Then, I cranked the treadmill up to an 8:00 min mile (7.5). The first mile wasn’t too bad. After that, it was hard. Really hard. By the time I got to 2.5 miles, I was having flashbacks to when I was crying after the Bayshore Marathon last year and remembering EXACTLY why I didn’t want to have to do that again. 

Upon completing my run, I text Rondi and said, “Done. Mentally and physically exhausted.” And that was 100% the truth. It had been a really long time (8 months to be exact) since I had to work so hard to stay mentally strong and positive during a run. Thank goodness the run was so short! I felt like I not only lost all of my endurance for holding an 8 minute mile, but also all of my endurance for holding a positive, “can do” mental attitude. 

And that’s when it hit me that mental toughness really does have to be trained. It’s not something that you have, or don’t have. It’s something that you work on and build up, just like physical endurance. The more uncomfortable situations you are in, the easier they become. The more time you spend being uncomfortable, the more manageable it is. 

No one likes to be in pain. No one likes to have thoughts and feelings of self doubt, giving up, and failure. But those are the thoughts that we need to learn to push through and overcome. It is only then that we learn how to handle that anxiety and prove to ourselves that we CAN do it. Every time we fight through it and don’t quit, we are fueling that inner confidence that we need to reach our goals.

I’m really not looking forward to all of the “uncomfortable” runs that I have coming my way over the next 5 months. But, I know that through each of those runs I am gaining the mental toughness that I’m going to need to get to Boston. And that makes it all worth it.

Sparkle.Pounce.Be Tough.


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