Saturday, July 28, 2012

Run the Mile You're In

"Good luck wit your mar-a-tawn-ning!"

I couldn't tell where the visitor was from; he had an accent, spoke on the phone a language that sounded Arabic, but replied "Florida" when asked where he came from. He was stamping his park passport book and I commented on his technical marathon shirt, the type they hand out at races that have the race logo and sponsors emblazoned on the back. We exchanged some running stories and I said that I wanted to run a full marathon, but have only completed a half marathon.

"It's mental," he told me, "you've made it half way already, so you can do the whole thing. The trick is to train your mind to overcome its own obstacles."

I appreciated the encouragement. And since I had a half hour to think on my run (and since it is no fun to run outside in the Louisiana humidity, I run on a treadmill... an excellent place to think for that is all you can do), I started thinking about the idea of mind-over-matter. I specifically thought about how that could (and almost should) be applied in life.

Oh, man! Another one of Elizabeth's how-life-relates-to-running analogies.

Sorry. You probably shouldn't visit me, neither, for I have running/inspirational quotes all over the place, too.

I not only have to overcome legitimate obstacles in life, but also overcome the obstacles I have created for myself. I am very good at creating those. So what do I do to train my brain to overcome them? Maybe start with acknowledging them. Maybe take a step back and take a deep breath. Maybe keep pushing.

That is what I realized about myself. I need something to work for, I need goals to work towards. When I run, I have a goal and I push myself because I know I am working for the goal. Training for the race, I run with the race in mind. Running during a race, I run to cross that finish line. Writing my thesis, I wrote to graduate. Working hard as a student-level park ranger, I worked to secure my "big girl" park ranger position. So now, I find I am stuck. Do I have a goal? What is my goal? And I will call this my "Mile 19." I am hitting a wall, but I know it is all mental. The run itself does not get easier, you just get better. This is just a part of my training. I just have to push through my own mental hurdles. And focus on my goal, whatever that may be.

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