Long runs… and the voices that accompany them.

I’ve been itching for a long run pretty much since the day I decided to take a break from running. And when I injured my hip and had to take some extra time off the allure grew even greater. So one would think that by the time long runs made it back on my schedule I would essentially be skipping through the miles with happiness. At least that’s what I thought would happen.

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But alas- some of those wonderful old habits have crept right back in. The ones where I let my brain take over my legs and sell myself short. Where I’m so quick to tell myself it’s okay to stop when it’s hard.

My first “long run” was the 10K I winged a few weeks back and afterwards I felt UNSTOPPABLE. I had my running mojo back, I wasn’t in pain… this was going to be great. 7 miles the next week was a bit tougher (My body clearly doesn’t remember what running in temperatures about negative). 8 miles the following week (a 3 mile warmup, 5K race, 2 mile “cooldown”) wasn’t fun as I learned that I do not enjoy long runs being broken into segments.

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And before I could blink… 10 was here. While it’s only the natural progression in my mileage, there’s still something about double digits that makes me shake in my little running shoes. It’s just so daunting. I mean, it’s just. SO. FAR. As I laid out my clothes, charged up my iPod and planned my route the night before the little voice in my head began to question my ability to finish. I tried to remember the last time I ran double digits and quickly realized it was my my half marathon. Gulp.

The next morning I cruised through the first 5 miles just fine. But once I hit that halfway point and realized how far I still had to go? Boom. I was done. As I shuffled along I tried to figure out how I could get home without having to run there. I passed a old woman out watering her flowers and contemplated asking to use her phone for a ride. I even questioned how I could pull off getting gently hit by a car- not hard enough to seriously injure me obviously, but enough that I could be done (PS is this normal?).

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The smile might lead you to believe I’m so proud I ran 10 miles… but really I was ready to kick myself.

I stopped. Way more that I’d like to admit. And every time I stopped I told myself it was going to be that much harder to start running again, but not like that kept me from doing it. I yelled and cursed at myself (Too bad a cop didn’t arrest me and end my long run that way!) and kept asking “Aren’t you the girl who swore you’d never take a run for granted again? What the hell are you doing?”

As much as I was hoping all this time off would cure my mental games, they’re still there lurking in the back of my little runner mind. And they surface as soon as I’m feeling weak. I just don’t know how to break past them, how to defeat the crazy voices in my head (they’re only there when I run, promise). I can’t figure out what it’s going to take to get over my mental barriers. What I do know however is that I have a half marathon in 3 weeks and if I can’t get my act together by then? Disappointed won’t even begin to describe it.

I’ve got 11 on the schedule this weekend. Advice welcome.

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About Kathleen

When your legs get tired run with your heart.

Posted on May 21, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. It’s probably not what you want to hear, but I think the trick to getting past the mental aspect is just to keep doing it. And/or run with friends to distract you! 🙂

  2. I know the mental barriers all too well! Sometimes reminding myself that I don’t HAVE to run, but instead, CHOOSE to run helps 🙂

  3. What are your expectations for the 1/2? You say you will be disappointed if you can’t get your act together, but you haven’t been training like you were last fall. You will run it and you will finish. Just think of it as a 13.1 mile long run. I don’t think you should have expectations that you will PR since you’ve been out of commission, but don’t beat yourself up about it.

    I am on the other hand am freaking out 🙂 I am doing the Heartbreak Hill10K and I while I’ve run over 6.22 miles (my longest run to date is 7.5 miles), I really haven’t done hills. Automatic PR for me since it is my first 10K race, but I am so convinced I am going to be swept. Silly thinking. I am just going to go out and enjoy myself and take in the fun running vibe.

    • My first half I totally let my brain get in the way of my feet, so I really don’t want that to happen this time. I think I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m thankful just to be there. Good luck with the 10K! The hills are what make me nervous too but we just got to suck it up and remember how proud we’ll be looking back after- right?

  4. I think for me it’s the pressure of feeling like I HAVE to, as healthyincville mentioned above. As I told you, I’ve been working on getting back into it and my goal over the last 6 weeks has just been to go 30 minutes, increasing my speed by .1 each week. Some days, no way. Other days, ok. But knowing I could stop and take a walk break helped me get through it. This week, my goal is to run 5k, however long it takes, and just try to beat my time from the previous run. Over the last weeks, it was all I could do to get to 30 minutes, but now that I have a different goal of reaching 5k, which I can’t quite accomplish in 30 minutes, I can go the extra minutes. You have a few weeks, you know you can do a walk/run combo and get through it, and you most certainly will. If it’s not what you expected, it’s another stepping stone to getting you there. You’re fabulous no matter what. It isn’t always pretty, and it isn’t always perfect – but that’s what makes it fun! Hang in there!

    • Thank you! I’m happy to say that my long run this past weekend went a LOT better. It may not be pretty, but I know I would regret not starting a lot more than a less than perfect finish.

  5. Ugh I’ve been there. Long runs are so mentally tough, and sometimes your body just doesn’t want to do it that day. Hopefully things will be better next weekend! Maybe plan a little reward for after your race as something to look forward to?

    • There’s this amazing diner we went to after my first half (which ironically was in the same town)… I will be running for pancakes and peanut butter milkshakes!

  6. I started listening to NPR or podcasts to make me stop talking to myself in my head and (sometimes) it works!

  7. Go for a run this weekend because you want to. Find a trail. Go without GPS. Run for as long as you want and stop when you want. Use it to remember why you love to run without any pressure. You’ll run farther than you thought because you will just WANT to.

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