I’ve Changed My Mind

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“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.

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12 Comments on “I’ve Changed My Mind

  1. I love this post! Self confidence goes a long way. The solid 18 miler we ran gave me the confidence that I could run the Ragnar miles and the Ragnar miles eased my fears about the marathon. I now believe everything happened the way it did for a reason. Maybe I was training too hard and needed a break. I am completely content with how everything played out and absolutely elated to still be able to run NYC on Nov 4 🙂

    Thanks for this post!!

    • So happy you enjoyed the post! Yes, it’s amazing when things seem to happen for a reason. It’s great that the Ragnar relay helped to set the stage for NYCM! All good things to come, I hope! x

  2. i’m glad to hear you are feeling more confident. the toughest part of the first 6 week of training is that we aren’t super fit… can play mental games with you for sure. hoping this last 4 weeks go awesome! eeek can’t wait! #bostonbound

    • See, that’s the thing. I should’ve been easier on myself because I didn’t look at it as not being super fit. I figured I’d just come out of a marathon in May, then started training in July. But I had an injury recovery in between. Thanks for the perspective!

  3. i’ve already told you this a million times on your blog, but srsly SO excited for you. i think that our mental state CAN make our workouts suffer. it’s like getting your brain on the right page is half the battle. props to you for taking control && gaining so much self confidence during this training cycle!

    “Things don’t just fall into place. You MAKE them fall into place.” — i agree with your friend.

    • Thanks! I think the mental training this cycle has been a huge eye-opening & growth experience for me. Very grateful for it. 🙂

  4. Wow, you hit the nail on the head, even with my own running in the past few months. It’s so hard to put this kind of thing into words but you did it beautifully. I think sometimes it’s really easy to “jump the gun” and set yourself up for failure as a runner, just by teetering between confidence and doubt. I really struggled this year to find the confidence in my running, despite having strong workouts. And it became a game that I played in my own head—would I succeed or would I fail, just as my mind told me I would? I love that you let those doubts fail and believed in your BODY. It just makes it an even ‘sweeter’ experience to know that your body and your mind are aligned. I’m SO excited to see what you do on November 4th—because you know it’s going to be an amazing day. 😀 Cheers!

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  6. For me, I think it was definitely the mindset that changed (or needed to change). Once that happened, everything changed.

    I used to run a lot (6 miles almost daily). But the last two years have been tough – I hurt my lower back. Herniated disc apparently, and it’s been tough to run or workout consistently because I’d always hurt myself.

    I started getting better in August, or feeling better anything. So I started hitting the trails like I used to but I *so* wasn’t ready. I was panting less than a mile in. But I went, every week for 3-5 days a week. I ran my first half-marathon in November and a 10k. My times weren’t pretty, but I wasn’t running to race at this point. I was running to finish.

    I have two trail runs scheduled this month and it’s funny, I look forward to so many more in January, February etc. When I read this post and think back, none of this was me earlier this year. I was overweight, in pain, and dreaded the thought of going to run for a few miles. Now, I live for it every single day.

    Anyway, nice to meet you Lora. Was fun reading your post 🙂

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