Friday, April 3, 2020

Don't Give In to The Wall

If you're a distance runner, then you know what "hitting the wall" is all about. Usually it's around
mile 20 in a marathon. Most of the time it's due to improper fueling, hydration, or both. Sometimes, it's due to going out too fast too soon. And sometimes, it just happens with no explanation.

There are other walls we encounter that don't involve marathons. Walls we can't control. Right now, Covid-19 is a huge wall for everyone affecting our daily lives. For runners, it means no group runs, social distancing when we do run with others. For many, it's meant canceled races for which they've spent months training. Sickness and injury are similar walls out of our control.

Then there are self-imposed walls that keep us from achieving our goals. One of the biggest self-imposed walls is lack of confidence. We are often our own worst enemy. Something I often hear early on in marathon training is, "I can't run 26.2 miles." My response usually is, "You're right. Right at this moment, you can't run a marathon. But if you follow the training and take it one day at a time, and believe in yourself, you can run a marathon." We often look at the end result and get overwhelmed. A runner has months to prepare for those 26.2 miles. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it be challenging? Yes. Will there be bumps along the way? Yes. But you can do it.

For most individuals it's pretty common for self-doubt to creep in when they dip their toes into the unknown. The initial response for many is, "I Can't!" But here's the thing. You can. You have to just flick-it! Flick that self doubt to the curb! Don't give into the Wall. Easier said than done, right?

A big step in achieving this is clearing your mind of "Can't." Just remove it from your vocabulary. Next step is to be "Real." It's going to be hard. Marathon training is one of the hardest things you'll ever do. But it will also be one of the most rewarding and life-changing things you'll do! Training for a marathon causes you to dig deep and find a you that you may never even knew existed. Once you find this new you, you'll be amazed how much you pull on the new you in other areas of your life.

If you follow my Instagram or Facebook page, you're probably aware that I've been dealing with an Achilles and Hamstring issue in my right leg. Because of the stay-at-home order, I've been able to get more rest and focus on my running. I've been doing 5-6 miles with 7 being my longest run of recent. I've been dealing with these issues since the end of August, so this is major progress. 

On today's run, I felt good. My goal was 6 miles. During the 3rd mile, my brain kept telling me, "When you reach 4 miles, you can stop, rest and stretch." I quickly recognized this as a self-imposed WALL.  At mile 4, I said, "No!" and kept going. But my brain kicked in again at mile 5, telling me to stop, rest, and stretch. I did not SUCCUMB to the WALL! I did the full 6 miles. That may not sound like a big deal, but I needed to show my brain and my body, that 6 miles is good with no stopping, and it was. Clear your mind of Can't!

Another self-imposed wall is the "I'll do it later syndrome." For many, they'll grab the first excuse that pops up as a means of putting off what we know may be difficult. Whether, it's too cold, too hot, raining, work, family, whatever, don't let excuses be your wall. Yes, there will be times, when you can't get in a run, that's life. But, if you schedule your workouts and make them a part of your daily/weekly routine, then you're much less likely to shove them aside. Schedule your workouts into your calendar just like you would a meeting and treat them with the same importance. Consistency is huge and often the key to successful running.

Walls don't just occur in marathon training. They occur in beginning running, training for a 5K, 10K, Half marathon. They occur in our everyday non-running life with that new job, new friend, new baby, job loss, financial issues, and more. Running is often a metaphor for life and rules for how to best succeed in running can be applied to everyday life events too. Running is so much more than running.

The next few weeks may be scary. Most stay-at-home orders allow for daily outside exercise with proper social distancing. So, unless the orders in your area restrict you to staying completely at home, get out and get in the daily walk or run. Not only will you not succumb to the Wall, you'll relieve a lot of stress too. 

Trust. Believe. Conquer!

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