We all train hard. We all are so consumed by our shortcomings, our own doubts, that we compensate by putting extra effort each and every day into our training.
I’m no different.
The past 30 days, my primary focus, my only focus, has been training. I’ve missed a lot of chances for fun the past month; whether it were going out for a late night on the town with old friends to reminisce about times of yore, or play soccer with my old teammates, spend time with family, you name it. There were times where I wanted to do something besides run, stretch, rest or go aqua jogging.
Yet, for the past 30 days, nothing else mattered. All that mattered was getting from Hopkinton, Mass. to Boston on April 16 in fewer than 140 minutes.
At the end of those 30 days, I hit a wall.
That constant pushing and pushing left me deflated. Physically, I was doing fine. The problem?
I hit a mental wall.
For some runners, especially those who endeavor into their venerable run streaks, running 36 consecutive days probably doesn’t sound like much. That was my longest streak. In addition to those 36 days was a constant 24-hour mental devotion to running. It was exhausting.
It was too much.
I could easily drive myself insane, burn out and just ruin any chance I have of reaching my goal if I continue to be too tense. Running is the toughest sport there is; at its most simplest form, it’s something everyone has the capability of doing, and is the foundation of almost every sport, but by itself it’s perhaps the most mentally draining, physically taxing thing human beings experience. I’m not smart enough to know why that is the case, but I am cognizant of the fact that it is the case.
Because running is so solitary, so difficult and just do damn hard, it has to be fun. You have to enjoy it. You have to relax once in a while and just take thrill in the journey from the first step on. Hopefully, that free mind that will no longer stress when a 12-mile easy run is 6:31 pace and not 6:29 pace (gasp!) and keep me more refreshed.
If I don’t, this mental wall can grow to be tougher than any wall I have ever hit in between miles 21 and 26.2.
Tomorrow is January 13. For those that know me incredibly well, they realize that tomorrow is my birthday. I say this not because I want birthday wishes, but because I turn 22 years old. In order to celebrate, I’m running 22 miles for each year of my life. What better way to reflect on your life to date, on your running career to date, than a stress less 2+ hours out on the roads? Tomorrow will be the most fun I’ve ever had running 22 miles.
Weather suggests I may have to alter plans as there is impending, dangerous snow and ice coming today and tomorrow. Somehow, some way, I’ll get those 22 miles in.
And if it does snow, rain and ice to create some deplorable running conditions, well, it does. It isn’t a problem at all. I’ll just skid by that mental wall.