I’ve Changed My Mind
“You have to want it, you have to plan for it, you have to fit it into a busy day, you have to be mentally tough, you have to use others to help you. The hard part isn’t getting your body in shape. The hard part is getting your mind in shape.”
~ Amby Burfoot
An interesting thing happened over the course of some runs. Things changed. It’s a bit like the age-old dilemma: what came first, the chicken or the egg. But, for me it’s: what changed first, the mind or the miles.
The beginning of training was difficult in certain respects. I was dealing with an onslaught of doubt. I made no secret of the emotional obstacles against which I was facing. In fact, I wrote about them here, here, and here. Certain workouts seemed a guaranteed breeding ground for insecurity. Speed work was made for me to fall short on pace. Long runs were host to the inevitable battle against a self-critical voice. Through the heat of the summer and the thickness of unease, I struggled to find my footing in training.
Regardless, I kept pushing forward. And both my workouts and I began to transform.
What exactly happened? I started to feel more confident. There’s a noticeable dissipation of anxiety and hesitation. While training continues to ramp up, I suddenly feel lighter. The workouts didn’t become easier, they became achievable. I began hitting my target paces during intervals. The long runs became stronger.
What I’m unsure of is if the more successful runs led to boosted aplomb; or, did the self-confidence result in better workouts. It’s difficult to identify the precise order of things. Does one need to occur first? Can they happen in unison to create a metamorphosis? Does it even matter?
What I can assert is I did not change solely on my own. I believe some incredibly supportive runner friends noticed a level of ability in me, which took me much longer to acknowledge. There’d been a discrepancy between what I’d felt and what they’ve seen for quite a while. Their encouragement, patience, and occasional frankness planted the seed that enabled my confidence to conquer doubt. They refused to let me sabotage my potential. For this, I’m genuinely grateful. The words may be simplistic, but they’re the container for unspoken affection and gratitude: thank you.
One day I’d remarked, “Things are falling into place.” To which a friend responded, “Things don’t just fall into place. You MAKE them fall into place.” There was truth in those words I needed to hear. It made me reflect on the evolution of my training, and more importantly, the transformation of my mind. And, it made me accept that I’d been responsible for doing the hard work. To see how far I’ve come since July is a true gift.
Now that I’m in the final month before the NYC Marathon, I’m feeling questions fall by the wayside. They’ve been replaced by palpable excitement. Whatever race day brings, this training cycle has been a growth experience. When I line up on November 4, I expect each step to seemingly rejoice: I’m in a good place.