When everything seems to be falling apart, in a race, in life, wherever, focus forward on what is important, block out distractions, remind yourself of the basics, tell yourself you can do it, and you will get to where you want to be.
The barefoot race began a downward spiral for me a few weeks ago in training and in life that made me wonder if the damage done could even be repaired and whether or not I could even make it out of this fog, this hurricane of painful events. Just like in a race, I was tested mentally, physically, and emotionally. A fellow blogger recently wrote about the ‘dark times’ of the marathon. I have not run a marathon yet, but I have experienced the ‘dark times’ in every half marathon that I have run. The ‘dark times’ for me are the parts of the race where you start to question yourself and doubt that you can even make it to the finish, because it hurts so bad. The parts of the race where you can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel because the finish is just too far away. I used to rely on the confidence I had in making it through and my competitive drive to get through those dark times, but after a few half marathons, that didn’t seem to be enough.
Sometimes the dark times last too long. Sometimes they are unbearably painful. Other times, the competitive drive isn’t strong enough.
I haven’t mastered getting through the darkest parts of a race or the dark parts of life, but there are some things that I do to make those times a little easier to manage.
Mantras and quotes. If doubt takes over your race, the positive energy fades, and it will take more effort to keep going. In my best races, I had a few mantras in mind to use to help me stay strong when the pace seemed too hard. In life, I believe that staying positive can carry you out of difficult times. I believe that saying, reading,writing, or just thinking about positive quotes or messages, even if you are not in a place to believe them, can help lift you out of life’s dark times.
Turning your brain off and continuing on. I have heard that not everyone can do this, but in many painful situations, this comes naturally to me. In a race, focus forward and let your body do the work. Don’t try to think, just keep going. In life, accept the painful times, but keep moving and doing what is necessary to come out of the darkness.
Rhythm and Routine. Listening to my foot strike, tapping my thumb and fingers together in a pattern, counting out a breathing pattern… Forcing my mind to focus on rhythm and patterns distracts me from the pain and helps me relax. Similarly, when I don’t feel like my life is even my life anymore, I do what I know, I stick to my ‘normal’ routine and schedule and I find that those little things that feel like home help make everything seem okay again.
The weekend marked my turnaround. All of life’s pieces started falling back into place and today, I sealed the darkness off with a confidence boosting Tempo Run.
3 mile warm up
Drills plus strides
2x2miles @6:45/mile (goal pace) with a 2 min jog in between
3 mile cool down
Set 1- 6:44/mile
Set 2- 6:50/mile (I slowed up to weave through a carpool line in the last mile of this one which affected my pace. )
The pace felt surprisingly easy, and I was able to check my watch on occasion and speed up when I needed to without panicking. (First time I have ever been able to do this effectively and calmly)
This workout felt so good. I can’t make sense of it, but I’ll take it.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
– Winston Churchill
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