Mantras and the Mind Game

“Why not me?”

This is one of my favorite mantras. Mantras are so important in long distance running. Along with praying, making lists, repeating a single line from an unsufforably annoying song, and playing out scenarios of how I want my race to go in my head, mantras are a staple of my long run mental game. Mantras are things that I tell myself to keep myself going when I feel less than stellar. I repeat these mantras, in an effort to keep out the negative self-talk, and focus on something positive. I am drawn to endeavors that push my limits, but one of my thoughts is, if other people are able to complete these events, why not me? With the proper training and preparation, why wouldn’t I think I could do it? Hence my mantra, “why not me?”

Here are some examples of some other mantras:
” Relentless forward progress”

“I will never regret finishing”

“There’s bacon at the finish”

“I eat hills for breakfast”

“Up strong, down swift”

And one of my favorites, which isn’t really a mantra, but more of a reminder, “PICK UP YOUR FEET!”

Stuff happens. Ankles twist, bees sting, blisters pop up (and pop).  The longer you are out there, the higher the likelihood that something will happen, so I think it’s important to consider those things ahead of time, and figure out strategies to get through those rough patches from a mental standpoint. The thing is, whatever is happening to me, is happening to other people as well. Everyone is feeling pain, low points, fatigue, hunger, etc…that is not unique to me. How I handle it is the key.

Mantras are just one strategy. In training for this race, I think a lot about the women of Bassin Caiman, and how the difficult things they do each day aren’t a choice. Those things are a matter of survival. I am fortunate to have the freedom to run like I do. So I say thanks to God for the strength in my legs, the support of my family, and the beautiful landscape in which I have the privilege of training. I focus on the scenes around me,  and the beauty of God’s creation. If I’m on the mountain, I reward myself by pausing to enjoy a view at an overlook, or to examine a particularly interesting plant. If I’m on the road, I scour the roadside for flowers, or try and discern shapes in the clouds. These thoughts and strategies help me to get out of a poor head space, and focus on things bigger than myself.

I typically do not run with music or anything like that, so I have a lot of time to think. However, if I am going out for a particularly hard effort, I will don the earbuds and crank some tunes. When you are used to having to entertain yourself, it is a real treat to run with some musical distraction from time to time. It gives me such a mental boost, and gets me through the challenge of my workout, be it heat and humidity, speedwork, or hill repeats.

Running is all about consistency and perseverance. I don’t always want to run. Sometimes, after a tiring day at work, or when my alarm goes off at 5am on a Saturday, the last thing I want to do is run. But I do, because I’ve made a commitment to myself, to the ladies of Bassin Caiman, and because running has become a part of me. Usually, once I get started, I am fine and my run goes well. Sometimes, though, every step is a struggle and I have to convince myself to keep going. And other times, every so often, each footfall feels amazing, and I find my “flow”…those are the days I chase with every run.

-Top of the falls at Amicalola Falls State Park 

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