Running is Mental

As I am currently tapering for a Marathon, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to discuss the mental side of running and building on mental strength.  Life is busy sometimes and it can be tough.  It can be tough to balance life, work with numerous hobbies!  When I look at the women that surround me, they are not only physically strong, they are mentally strong…

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I am such a mental runner and recognise the signs of when I start losing my head, usually when my inner voice is telling me ‘everything is hurting’, ‘slow down’, ‘you’re too old for this’, ‘give up’, ‘stop running’. This is where mental strength kicks in, when the little voice in my head gets shut down and I keep pushing.

If you are a runner, you are stronger than you ever know. When your alarm wakes you up for Parkrun or a training run on a weekend morning and you choose to get up rather than snoozing your alarm, ran in the wind or rain or you have swapped gin for a soft drink, you have built on your mental strength.

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Pushing on with the training when you don’t want to, one more rep, one more hill, 10 more minutes, one more mile all help develop your mental strength and grit.  Running is tough, we run through all weathers and despite obstacles of what is going on in our lives. Running allows us to forget, to be strong.

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Some of my friends use mantras to get them through tough races.  My good friend Emma (@Vegangirlthatruns) counts whilst going up a tough hill. (I’ve tried this but end up swearing and forget what number I was on)   I’ve got other friends who have motivational quotes that they repeat in their head on a loop.  Some even say their mantras out loud.  A fellow runner was running a marathon and shouted out her mantras to herself and found she had quite a following.

Running isn’t always perfect, sometimes our body just doesn’t want to. this is where positive thinking comes in and remembering all the good runs you have had.  Its easy to feel let down when your body doesn’t want to… and during this time it’s good to remember the runs where you have smashed it, felt strong and it all felt effortless.

There is so many ways of developing on your mental toughness – mostly by varying your runs so they provide different paces, efforts and locations.  These all build on your mental toughness by making you physically stronger and more confident.

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Its important to remember that your mind is designed to scan for danger and so any areas that throw you into an area of discomfort is where the task of developing mental toughness begins. This is when it becomes a case over body versus mind! Tolerating the brain to deal with the uncomfortable moments will take you to a whole new level of mental toughness! Perfect for race day!

Tapering is always tough on the mind – I am currently worrying about whether I have done enough training, whether I should be getting some junk miles in (just in case) but it’s just my mind playing tricks on me.  A good friend of mine recommended that I read the Chimp Paradox to help me with any mind demons https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chimp-Paradox-Management-Programme-Confidence/dp/009193558X  I have this on order!

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What exercises do you undertake to ensure you are mentally strong for race day and training runs.  What has given you mental grit to keep going? I would love to hear all about it!

Just Breathe…

I’ve had a pretty bad month this March.  Last week I discovered that my poor Marley had a tumor – he has since had this removed and I can only pray that it hasn’t already spread.  I also found out that God made my knees on a Friday.  During my 16-mile run in early March, my knee decided to give out and was excruciating (and has been ever since).  I am yet to get a diagnosis for this and think I am on the 8th diagnosis which is not only frustrating as it is disappointing. Next week I have a scan to find out what’s going on, once and for all….

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Since the beginning of March (apart from a couple of short runs), I have not been able to carry out any long runs.  I am absolutely gutted at the thought that I may not be on the start line for London next month and the longer time goes on, the more unlikely this prospect is.  Needless to say, my mental health has taken a bit of a battering.  I’ve been keeping a low profile from social media as this is doing nothing for my anxiety.  On the positive side, I have raised a whopping £1600 for the Rowan’s Hospice which they are extremely grateful for.

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Sometimes its good to reminded that we can’t control everything. Our society promotes the ability to have it all and to do it all, if you can’t, you’re a failure. You’re not, its ok not to be ok. Its okay to let friends know that you’re not in a great place.

I have been filling my time with Marley cuddles, and lots of Cross training.  Yoga has also helped, to enable me to just BREATHE…. And mostly, I’m trying to be kind to myself.

Until next time…

Kezza x

Self Love

‘But what are you doing for YOU Kerry?’ This was the burning question my PT asked me not so long ago..  The answer was probably absolutely nothing.  I was caught in a working 40 hours per week, socialising, marathon training, leading at club, organising a 5K for charity and strength training at the gym.  I work in HR and I’ve got to be brutally honest, I was a bit ‘peopled out’.

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Sometimes you burn out before its too late and I had lost a bit of my spark.  I was just mentally and physically exhausted. I can’t remember the last time I sat on my sofa and just did nothing and relaxed.

It’s essential at times to remember that we all have choices and it’s OK to be selfish sometimes.  I try to lead running groups at club at least once a month.  This month, I’ve just not been able to manage it. Do I feel guilty – absolutely.   It’s so easy to feel the tug of war on expectations, challenges, commitments, technology, family, friends and work. But do you need it all to just STOP for a moment?

Dr Seuss summed it up beautifully: “How did it get so late so soon?” he wrote ” It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

This Friday night, I have a date, with myself. I’m going to watch a good film, have a bubble bath, light some candles and incense, turn off all social media and just RELAX.  When was the last time you did that?

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I’ve thought about how I can slow my pace down whilst juggling all these balls in the air and from next week, I’m going to attempt the following;

  1. Breathe – There are a variety of breathing techniques that can help you slow down and enjoy your life. Just by breathing in your nose, hold and breathing out of your mouth
  2. Marley cuddles – There’s a reason why my dog is my best friend. Marley brings me so much joy to my life as well as unconditional love and companionship.

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3.  Just ‘be there’ – being in the present. Having gratitude, listening, being  appreciative    – this can be achieved by yoga, and meditation.

4. Less is more – Spring clean anyone?

5.  Drive Slower – I constantly race from A to B and need to slow down and become less  frustrated with other drivers. We are all guilty of it.

6.  Saying ‘No’ – sometimes having more time for you means saying no from time to time.

What do you do to relax? How do you know when you just need a ‘time out?’

May your miles be long , your weekend relaxing and your injuries few.

Kezza x