It seems like I’ve been hitting some familiar and related topics over the last few weeks: keeping yourself focused on the end goal; staying with it when it gets tough; and, understanding how to you keep your workouts from becoming work. Today I want to give you a reminder that when you do put in the time and the “work” you’ll get there. There is a prize at the end of the road. That’s why you do all of this work.Yesterday was my first ultra-marathon in a number of years. I’ve been training for an Ironman-distance Triathlon that’s coming up in a couple of months. In preparation for that race, I’ve been doing some very long workouts and I wanted to get out and log some long miles on my legs to see how that would feel. The race that I was doing was a trail race on single-track with a moderate amount of climbing in it. I know that it was going to be a bit of a grinder and would be muddy and very slippery in sections.
In the early miles of the race I kept reminding myself that the point of the exercise was not to race to win, but to race to train. I wanted a good, high-quality effort, that would contribute to my overall training plan for my upcoming “important” race. And I had to keep this present in my thoughts throughout the day. This was an element in my training plan and I needed to keep my eyes on the prize out there a couple of months ago.
Almost from the start of the race I found myself chatting with other runners. By relaxing and knowing that this was supposed to be something that I was doing “for fun”, I kept it light and kept my mood upbeat. I admit I was a bit of a chatty Kathy through most of the first 25 miles or so. I ended up running in a train with three other runners (two of the top three women and one other male runner). We chatted about our kids, upcoming races, and our training. And they all laughed every time I fell going across bridges.
By letting myself relax, I was relaxed. The whole day that was much more fun because of it. There was a point when I thought about breaking away and running on my own because I knew I could have probably run faster, but I held back. I kept my mind fixed on the ultimate prize — getting ready for my upcoming race and not getting lost in this one.
I would say that yesterday was one of my most relaxed races in terms of experience. In fast, even when it got very hard in the last miles I was able to stay positive. I kept reminding myself that the plan was not to go fast but to go long. In the end, I ran a much faster time than I had expected and I attribute to the strategic and relaxed nature of the day.
The experience was a fundamental reminder that our thoughts control our experience. I chose to stay present in the moment, to focus on my long-term goals, and to keep the day light and fun. My experience reflected where my thoughts were pointing me. So much of our experience every day mirrors the focus of our thoughts. Our internal focus controls how we experience our environment and whether we experience things positively or negatively; whether we feel anxiety and stress; or whether we feel pleasure and joy.
As you think about why you are running, think about how your thoughts impact your workouts and races. Spend some time thinking about how you create your own experience through the focus of your thoughts. Stay positive and think about the ultimate prize — reaching your goals, your health and your happiness. You are the captain of your ship. Set a course toward your dreams and you’ll get there.
Coach Joe English, Portland, Oregon USA
Running Advice and News
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