Monday, July 14, 2014

The Monster Inside

Coming back from an injury, or from a extended break is hard for even the most seasoned runner. A once deemed "easy run" can feel like running a marathon, both physically and mentally. Lacing up your shoes and heading out for a run can be such a struggle, just because you know that at this point, every run is hard. Having to walk, or take it slower than what you have been able to do in the past is something that can mess with your head and make each step just a little bit harder.

Why, when we are coming back to running from and injury or a break,  do we mentally beat ourselves up so much?

I have always struggled with the mental part of running. My head is my own worst enemy. Doesn't matter if it is a slow recovery run, or a major race, my negative self-talk can make any run pure torture.

Even before my month-long break from running, I had issues with my head. I have talked myself out of so many races while waiting in the starting corral. Though I have never actually left a race, I did down-grade from a 10k to a 2-miler because of my negativity in the starting corral. I somehow always find a way to pull myself together, and get excited about the event. It is however, a real struggle for me, and one that I have not yet figured out how to deal with, aside from arriving pretty late to the corral.

 The beginning of a race is full of questions: Did I train hard enough? Did I train too much? Did I fuel right? Did I hydrate enough? Where is the closest bathroom?  Am I going to finish? Is my costume going to chafe? So it seems natural that we all struggle with some sort of corral anxiety, either nerves, extreme excitement, or in my case pure panic.

But training runs is where my negative self talk seems to rear its ugly head the most. I should have a law degree, because I can argue myself out of any run, any day of the week. I have found that it is best for me to just jump out of bed, and throw on my running clothes before my head knows what my body has planned. This is the way I am functioning these days, in order to get my training runs in.

Thanks to my little break, getting back into top running form (top? hmm.), has been a real challenge, and because it is physically harder than I thought it was going to be, there have been too many opportunities for my head to get into the mix and mess things up even more.

The 3 mile runs I used to enjoy so much, have become a struggle. Physically they are hard, I am not going to lie, this last month really hurt my cardio, and I feel like I am breathing in fire! But mentally I am struggling more. When I should be cheering myself on for getting out there and training, and not missing workouts, I am beating myself up because I cannot run as fast, or as far as I used to. When my lungs start screaming, and I know I should push through, my head tells me to stop, to walk to give up.

It is so frustrating to be plagued by such terrible negativity. I try to tune it all out by listening to music, but that doesn't help. I repeat positive sayings in my head, and tell myself that I can do it, and that I am strong. But that awful voice keeps popping up, telling me I can't.

I am not bi-polar, nor do I have multiple personalities, I just have some pretty awful self-talk, that I need to take care of. I have races to run!! I have to get back at it, and start feeling good about my run again!

So, why do I do this to myself, why put myself down? I am not sure I have the answer to that right now. But I know that I am going to keep pushing myself, and keep battling this little negative voice, until I have made my comeback and it has nothing else to say.

How do overcome your negative self talk?


Lauren said...

I will be coming off my injury and going back to running again here very soon, and part of me wonders what I'll struggle with... will it be a great mentality while physically getting winded much easier? It scares me to think that may happen since I want to be where I was before my injury immediately. If I ever struggle with negative self-talk, I just go through the motions...put on my shoes and running outfit, walk to the gym and get on the treadmill. One step at a time and eventually the run gets done but if I feel so tired that my form may be lacking, then I don't finish my run. Giving it a chance is what is most important though! Good luck Kristy!

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