Running Heavy: overcoming the mental obstacles

Running is hard. Not just physically but mentally and lately it’s been especially hard for me to jump back into training. Since I had to take a step back to protect my noggin from those headaches that mess with my memory and cause a whole lot of problems, over coming a fear and making health a priority opened the opportunity for an old enemy to join the game: hesitation.

On top of that, I hurt my shoulder doing a fun handstand at the Zoo with my nephews on Mother’s Day. I know, I’m a nut-job. You don’t realize how important your shoulders are to movement until you hurt them. This is the second time I’ve hurt a shoulder.  Round 1 was ruff. So this is just a frustrating reminder to continue taking care of myself. It’s also driving me nuts. I was totally hoping to be swimming and paddleboarding all the time by now! But everything happens for a reason right?

But here’s the thing: while I’m struggling with this there’s still that spark in me fighting so hard and is so inspired to move and play and do. I want to do everything right now. I’m also pretty freaking stubborn. I will not give up.

There’s so much fear of getting hurt or having to sit back for another 2 years and all this stupid negative talk inside my head but there’s this amazing constant light inside me that I am so thankful leaves me torn on the regular between these to sides. If I wasn’t torn, I may be stuck in the dark. I’d rather be torn.

 

I got that antsy-work-in-progress vibe. Something big is coming. I like it.⚡️⚡️⚡️

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Last Friday’s run looked rad that I posted a photo of. It started off ruff but ended strong. That is so important.  It’s knowing that you worked hard and never gave up on yourself. It’s so important. Like I say in the caption, I do know something is coming.

Again, if I wasn’t torn between the dark and the light: I wouldn’t grow.
I wouldn’t have the opportunity to overcome.
I wouldn’t be me.
The mental game is getting so much work and that’s so important.
If we don’t work our mental game as much as we work our physical, we create a huge imbalance.

This morning’s goal was to do a morning run. Which means it had to happen before noon. Ideally it should have happened first thing this morning but you know, I’m not a morning runner soooo it got pushed back to like 11:30 [still a morning run technically!]. Now, all of me was calm and ready to run. I wasn’t dreading a run. I was more indecisive about which route to take than anything to be honest. I wanted one that would keep me moving with less interruptions, so I chose a greenway rather than hopping around the city streets.

But here’s the thing: even though so much in me wanted to do this run and move. And so much in me WANTS to get better and fast again and regain all my old speed: something in me fought and tried to walk. And I actually walked at times. So I made the decision to make today’s run an interval run rather than forcing a straight run.
Not only would this help me reach some goals I have for myself to work on speed-play, but mentally it would help me actually do the run and not feel bad about any walking or change of pace because there was planned walks/easy parts.

What was the run?

Walk/run .75 warmup
.25 walk/dynamic warmup things because my hips were just feeling it/run until I hit a mile
6×2:15 build 7:30-6:30/mile with 1:00 walk recovery
1 mile cool-down where I ran for .5, walk/run .5

*My body decided to walk/run the rest but whenever I really didn’t want to run during this, I made myself run because I knew it would make me stronger.

While this pace or workout wasn’t the hardest, because mentally I’ve been struggling, the run took a lot our of me, more than I’d like but my goal is baby steps out of this place of fear so I can stay healthy with my running.  Each interval came out to be around .3 miles and the walking was around .6 or so?  My watch said my run was 3.97, my run is mapped out as a 4.1 mile run. Gotta love the difference. I’m starting to miss running based on perceived effort vs what a GPS is telling me.

 

Running is my happy place, as it is for so many of you! I want to keep it happy.

Overcoming anxiety and run funk is not easy, sometimes the fake it till it’s real mentality works. I’m mixing that and all my mental and other tricks to pull myself and also just being patient with myself because I also know that this is about to be a big time for growth.

Some of my tips for you guys when you’re struggling:
1) Don’t beat yourself up about it. That’s only going to make it worse. As upset as you may be with yourself for feeling unmotivated to do something, there’s likely a reason behind it. Find that reason instead of fighting it. Those negative vibes that come from tearing yourself down do no one any good. I don’t beat myself up over runs right now. Like I said, running is my happy place. If I constantly tear myself down, it becomes unhappy.
2) Tell someone. Find that accountability person. You don’t have to share it with the world unless you want to, you want to. Sometimes just opening up can help so much.
3) Force nothing. If there’s anything I learned when my brain stopped working is that forcing anything made matters worse. When you reallly realllllyyyy didn’t want to do something, and then you force yourself to do it in a negative way, you’re likely going to mentally set yourself back. NOW this is different than giving yourself a badass peptalk to get out and do something when you feel that inkling to do something you’re in a funk about but you’re hesitating. Does that make sense?  There’s a fine line here. Find your balance of forced vs nudged. Again, this is a happy place thing for me: keep things positive!
4) Be flexible. Like with my run today, be open to changing the plan. When you’re struggling or in a funk, things feel like they really aren’t going as plan. I 100% suggest coming up with some Plan B, C, and D’s to help you adjust. This will open your mindset and help you be less frustrated with yourself. I did not want to give up on myself or my run today so I adjusted to something I knew I would do and my body and training would benefit from and I’m so happy I did instead of trudging through a terrible run like I’d originally planned.
5) Take a step back from social media! GASP. Have y’all noticed I’ve slowed my roll with posts over the last month? Well. There’s so much that goes into why but for me my social revolves around my training and more. I decided it was a perfect time for me to just relax my roll and focus on life and embracing me and exploring other things for a little bit. It’s been so refreshing! I still keep up with everything but it’s just nice to be less scheduled. So take a minute to not schedule. To not live your life on Facebook. You’re allowed to grow in other areas of your life.
6) Let yourself get antsy. This is probably my favorite. When I feel like I’m in a funk or struggling. When I don’t want to do something, sometimes I stop myself from doing things all together with the intention of getting myself to a point of mental crazy, and here is where I actually do force myself to not do something. I simply want to get myself to a place where I’m itching for whatever has been missing. That’s been me with running. I have been itching to get back to training. I really have. While there is a fear about my noggin, all I want to do is train. And that is what got me out there, and kept me out there today even if mentally it was a tough run.

I hope some of these little-big mental tricks help you with life and running or whatever it is you are training for but maybe struggling with. They are some things I personally work with and have done and find to be helpful for ME but could be helpful for you. We all have our ways of coping and moving through hard times.

What are some of your tricks and mental affirmations that you use to help you get through things?
Do you have to trick yourself into workouts sometimes?
Let me know if you have any questions! I would love to hear from you!

Also: If you’re in the Charlotte area and want to get some swims in, please DM me on Facebook or IG or email me at info@smasheton.com about Wednesday morning swims for location details and other info!! They will be from 6:30-7:30 and I’m really excited about this!

2 Comments

  1. Nate

    Not sure if it’s a trick, but the TYPE of music I listen to helps a lot. I don’t listen to one set genre for certain workouts, it’s all variable based on..well…variables. Sure, sometimes I need something metal and angry to get me through a workout, or maybe I just need something chill and low key to listen to…whatever it takes, I get a slight little extra boost from it.

    1. Nice! I know music helps so many with workouts! I personally don’t use music for my runs, but I do love music before runs! My pandora playlist has been on shuffle lately and literally combines all my playlists. It’s been pretty epic! Christmas in May included…

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