Mind Games

running woman

I’ve been struggling a lot lately getting into the groove with running again. Physically I had a bad winter. Between recovering from adrenal fatigue and living with sciatica, I just simply wasn’t running. Never mind the fact that I despise cold weather running. I actually enjoyed having a bit of a break, after all the marathon training last year.

On the physical side of things I’m doing a lot better. My super-duper vitamin injections and supplements helped with the adrenal fatigue (not to mention more daylight hours), and the sciatica has improved, thanks to some brutal massages, tons of stretching and trading in my office chair for a stability ball. My bad hip isn’t 100%, but it’s not preventing me from running anymore, which is the main part.

CBG and I are now on the wedding countdown (101 days to go, in case anyone is curious!) and we’ve both committed ourselves to getting into better shape before the big day. So for the last month or so I’ve really been making an effort to get out there and run in the mornings, now that my physical issues aren’t as troublesome.

I’m still encountering problems, though — of the mental variety. Those of you who are runners know that in order to be successful at distance running, there is a certain “zone” you need to get into when you’re out there. It’s a special kind of head space; I think of it as moving meditation. It’s where you’re able to let go completely of how your body is feeling and allow your mind to take you places other than where you are right at the moment. My long runs have allowed me to plan future events, mull over past and current problems, dream about possibilities. I simply let my mind go where it wants and enjoy the ride, without having to force anything.

But the problem right now is that I absolutely can’t find that zone. I can’t find the zone and so every single step of every single run pretty much sucks. And as soon as I find myself getting into “The Zone”, I snap myself out of it somehow.

“This sucks, I’m only doing 5k and that’s it.”

“It’s going to be a busy day at work today.”

“My hip is starting to hurt. Am I pushing myself too hard?”

“Tomorrow I’m sleeping in, dammit.”

“I really should run tomorrow.”

“What if I’m never able to do another long distance run again?”

“Why can’t I think about something else?”

“Okay, I’m going to think about wedding planning. We have a million things to do.”

“Shit. Hill. I hate this hill. This hill sucks.”

“I need to start doing some hill work. I’m too slow. This shouldn’t hurt this much.”

“Did I really run a marathon only 6 months ago?”

“Hey! I just thought about something else for like five whole minutes. Shit. Now I’m thinking about running again.”

“F*ck this noise, I’m going home.”

You get the idea. The craptastic quality of these runs have put me in a place where I’m allowing doubt to creep in. I worry about my ability to ever run long distance again. I worry that I’m getting old and my body is wearing out. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to get over this mental mountain.

And with all of the running doubts come other doubts as well. About myself, my life, choices that I’m making. Everything is in question these days — nothing is safe. I feel like if I could get out there for a good long run, I’d be able to sort through it all and get everything straight in my mind. The cruel irony, though, is that my mind seems to be getting in the way of me having a good run long run.

And so round and round it goes.


6 Responses

  1. Ugh I HATE mind games!! Mine usually start when I start running outside and transitioning to that again after dreadful dreadmill runs during the winter. But slowly and surely, I eventually dig out of that space, and so will you.XO! (YAY 101 days!)

    • Hopefully I dig my way up out of this, soon. I’m craving one of those sweet runs where I organize my life, solve all of my problems, and plot to take over the world….! 😉

  2. Ha! I so hear you on this. I’ve been missing out on yoga because I’m not sure my mind can sit still long enough. Which basically means I need to do more yoga.


  3. Have you read Zen and the Art of Running? I’m not very far in but so far it’s good. And Chirunning is supposed to help with that. Also not done with that yet but good so far.

  4. I’m not a runner, but… I also suffer from chronic pain that most of the time is very manageable and times, really bothersome. Writing is my “zone” where usually I can make all of that disappear, but under the most extreme stress my sleeping goes haywire. (Hello, Stress? You’ve had me in your grip for the past two months, now shoo!) Naturally, the more I stress, the less I sleep, and the less I sleep the harder it is to get work done, writing work done, to get anything done, and with low pain.

    How can you possibly not have the wedding on your mind, not to mention (maybe?) pushing yourself too hard?

    One of the things I did a few nights ago – we’ll see if it helps – will sound pretty basic, if not lame. After lecturing myself in my head about all the sources of my stress, I wrote a few of the remarks by “Adult Me” on paper and tacked them up on the kitchen cabinets. Oh, the sort of thing like Take a Breath, Think Big Picture. Simple words like that to remind me to keep my cool and focus – without driving myself crazy with expectations that my and mind are clearly resisting.

    No clue if any of this is applicable. What the heck. But hoping you can be a little less hard on yourself.

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