In my former life as a competitive swimmer, my mental game would determine the outcome of any race for me. If there was pressure on, I would inevitably do one of two things: kick butt and take names or choke like I needed a Heimlich. There was never any in-between—the race either went really well or really poorly.
When I wasn’t expected to PR, especially during mid-season when we were (over)trained and (over)tired, I could just go out and swim. There weren’t any expectations for me to perform. I was just supposed to get race experience. But in a pressure-filled meet, I was all or nothing.
The mental game would make or break me.
Now that I don’t have parents and a coach pushing me to practice and practice hard every day, my mental toughness comes into play not just on race day, but on any given training day. Can I make myself do the workout or am I going to give up? Can I not only make myself work out, but do everything in my power to get the most out of that particular workout? Am I giving my training my full focus and attention?
Honestly, for the last few months, I haven’t been. And the half marathon was a reality check. Do I want to be an exerciser or an athlete? Either choice is okay. But I’ve been an athlete my whole life.
I still want to be an athlete.
Scratch that. I still am an athlete.
Why yes, I did finally get a decent picture of me racing. Thanks for noticing.
On my Monday lunch break, I ran some hill repeats one street over from my building. 8 x .125 (an eighth) miles sucked. The hill was steep, my butt and my calves burned, and the people having happy lunches at the restaurant I ran past eight times probably thought I was crazy.
But that’s okay. I kept telling myself “these hills might suck—but you know what won’t suck? Passing a bunch of people on Heart Attack Hill in the Peachtree.”
I didn’t use my pacer app. I set a timer for 25 minutes and told myself to get up that hill eight times. I got up it eight times in 21:15. So I know I was holding a decent pace since I was half walking/half jogging down the hill.
I won the mental game on Monday. One battle down in the war my brain tries to start every workout.
How do you overcome the mental game while you’re training?
I honestly use that Winnie the Pooh quote all the time. And I focus on form when I’m tired. And how much it’s going to rock when I see the results of my hard work. And how grateful I am that I can actually do these things…the list goes on and on.
What motivates you to push through the hard workouts?
My goals. But even more than that, I use a sheer determination to finish what I started. I used to give up so easily and I want that girl to go away. So I finish each workout to the best of my ability to squash naysayer Caroline into the ground.