Mind Games

How does one tell their brain to shut up?  Do you know?  Because I really need to start ignoring the garbage that mine comes up with.  I have had two really good runs this week and they should be confidence boosting, but they just haven’t been.  I don’t know if it’s because I still am identifying with the old slower me or if it’s fear.  I haven’t been able to be proud of these runs.  Actually, that’s not totally true.  I was doing a happy dance around our kitchen on Sunday, but for some reason I’ve stopped.

On Sunday we dropped Spud with friends for an early morning playdate and then headed to the store for our group 16km run.  I don’t run with Colin due to obvious speed discrepancy issues.  I’ve tried to be pretty consistent and keep with the same long run group each week.  I found early on that I can keep up with the 4 hour marathon group which runs a 6:22 – 7:11/km (10:15 – 11:33/mi).  I always find that the first 5 kilometres or so are my worst so I wasn’t too worried that I was on the slow end of the pace.  As the run went on I settled in nicely with a few other ladies.  The route was a long rolling out and back up to the watershed (had to touch the fence!).  I ran so I could talk and had a good run.  The second half was great!  I think we finished at about a 6:55/km pace (and that was with doing 20 + 1s).  

I know my problem with this run.  My brain.  It keeps telling me that it was a fluke.  That I didn’t really belong.  That the people I ran with are SO MUCH faster than me.  Intimidated, much?  It’s like I have a sign on my forehead that says “Not Good Enough”, but only I can see it.  I shouldn’t be competing against anyone but myself.  And not even against myself on a long run.

And then there was today’s run.  I went out with my friend Lindsay with whom I run once a week.  Because she brought a friend along I ran an extra 2-1/2km each way to meet up in a convenient spot.  It actually worked out well that I had a long run today (17km) since I wasn’t going to be able to do my 10km run tomorrow due to another running partner being out of town.  So I rolled two tempo runs into a long steady run with Spud.  I figure that the weight cancels out the speed of the others and I’ll come out even.  Anyways, once we met up we ran out along a trail for 40 minutes, turned around, I ran a little extra so Spud could go over a bridge and back (never promise a 3 year old anything), and then I ran home.  All told I was out for over 2 hours.  I’m not fast when I have the stroller and I walked up all the hills that were even remotely steep.  The weather was decent – a drizzle that was more like mist – and the company was good.

I know my problem with this run.  My brain.  It keeps telling me that I’m slow.  HELLO?!?  I was pushing 60+lbs of stroller and kid.  Anybody would be slow.  And really, an 8:11/km with walking up hills and stopping to attend to the whims of a toddler isn’t shabby.

So where do I go from here?  I obviously know what my problem is.  I just don’t quite know how to fix it.  There’s no easy off switch for this.  I can’t keep comparing myself to other runners.  Especially ones that aren’t really faster than me.  And I can’t keep telling myself that I’m slow.  A middle-of-the-pack runner, yes.  Slow, not so much anymore.  

I think I’d really benefit from reading about positive self-talk.  I read a book a while ago that touched on it, but I don’t remember too much (and it was relatively old).  Do any of you have suggestions for hippy dippy mumbo jumbo running/sports psychology books?

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6 responses

  1. I don't really have any tips other than to say that I can empathize. I find it hard to stay positive sometimes, but I suppose you just have to keep telling yourself that you're worth it! 🙂

    January 26, 2011 at 3:02 am

  2. Anonymous

    I received “Born to Run” for Christmas – seems to me you & M were talking about it on one of our runs last fall. You were pretty enthusiastic if I do recall! I haven't finished reading it yet but am figuring I'm going to have to read it a couple of times. Don't think (easy for me to say) about what others are doing – you've come along way & pushing Spud … that's a workout & a half! And if you'd like some light reading I have “I Run Therefore I am — Nuts” and “The Non-Runners Marathon Guide for Women” if you're interested in some reading. Will be out on Wed. for my clinic – we could meet later (if that works for you). J

    January 26, 2011 at 3:14 am

  3. I know how you feel but all I can say is that the power of positive thinking is huge. Listen to some of your favorite songs and just relax and lay down and picture yourself running your ideal race. That always makes me feel better.

    January 26, 2011 at 3:15 am

  4. Amy

    I joined a group for the first time this winter, and I find it gives me similar thoughts that I never had when I only ran on my own. Maybe try getting out for a run or two every week by yourself? Every so often I run alone without music and just practice positive self talk (how's that for hippy dippy?) It sounds cheesy, but it works!

    January 26, 2011 at 4:05 am

  5. Fake it till you are it! Works for me. Even the celebration. Let yourself bask in the successful completion of any run! Talk about it to others, high five at the end!

    January 26, 2011 at 5:26 am

  6. I actually really liked this Runner's World article about mantras and have been using one – if you are repeating a mantra in your head you can't be putting yourself down! Good luck, I hope you can get your confidence up!

    http://www.runnersworld.com/article/1,7124,s6-238-244–13819-0,00.html

    January 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm

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