This is likely the longest I’ve trained for a single event: more than any other marathon and roughly three or four weeks longer than my two Ironman’s. This whole debacle started seven months ago in December. With my son on the way and a few naysayers in my ear, I decided to prove that it’s possible to train, do well, and still function in society.
I continue to treat patients full-time while running two separate businesses (RunSmart being one). The long hours (typically 65-70+/week) took their toll, which I believe had some effect on my DNF at the Buffalo Marathon. The last three weeks leading up to Buffalo were atrocious. Each run was a struggle to finish. I thought an early taper would be a cure all, but it wasn’t. I toed Buffalo feeling sick, tired, and worn out. Truthfully, from mile two I knew I was in trouble. I was exhausted.
Grandma’s Marathon brings me new life. The bug that left me sick for Buffalo faded over the course of two weeks. Since, my runs have been nothing short of awesome. I needed it. For a month stretch I struggled to find any speed. The combination of tired legs and the sensation of breathing through a straw left me with zero confidence. I felt slower than when I started.
When my breathing finally returned my “speed” and confidence were drafting right behind it. I’m excited and nervous for tomorrow. I’ll take that over the fear I felt for Buffalo. I have a few specific time goals, but ultimately I’m seeking to trump my 2:55 that I ran in 2014 at Boston.
I’ve begun tackling new aspects of training between my DNF at Buffalo and the start of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN this Saturday. I’ve been delving more into the psychology of sport. We all know running is so mental (beyond the reasons explained by our non-running friends). How can we find the strength to push hard to a finish, when as little as 10 minutes prior we couldn’t have dreamt it? So the last few weeks have lead me on a quest to improve my mental strength and focus.
In his book “Unbeatable Mind: Forge Resiliency and Mental Toughness to Succeed at an Elite Level” Navy Seal Officer Mark Devine states,
“You have to win in your mind, before you can win in battle. There are no limits on what can be achieved when we remove the mental barriers we set for ourself.”
Now, I don’t plan on lacing up any combat boots, but I believe the word battle can be used as a metaphor for any of life’s challenges. Planning and believing in success may be able to accelerate us to a new level. One that we may have not thought possible.
Since Buffalo, I’ve been training my mind as much as my body. We’re all capable of much more in life and sport. The trick is carrying the confidence and mental strength to allow the brain to control the body—not the other way around. You see, the brain doesn’t feel pain—it only perceives it. Much like your strength and endurance, your mental resiliency is trainable. Many believe that you can train your mind to persevere. I’m beginning to find this myself.
By no means do I find myself to be an expert in mental strength. Actually, I suck at it. I’ve folded in races with the “good enough” attitude only to retrospectively question my efforts. I’ve only recently begun to appreciate the mental toughness in life and sport. I will continue to explore options through research and expert opinions, but I leave you with the challenge to train both your mind and the body.
I will put this to practice tomorrow in Duluth, hoping to run my way back to Boston, a PR, and home in time for my first father’s day.