"No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end." - Nelson Mandela
When I started on this running journey, I had no idea where it would lead and I still don't know what all is in store for the future. While I knew running would be hard work and effort, there have been some unexpected turns in this adventure as well. I've understood that one must truly become mentally strong to continue in this sport.
The mental hurdles of the runner
1) Not everyone will support your goals. When you first begin "fitness" or "running" or whatever your method is, most people will support you. After a while, however, you will find that some will no longer find your fitness exceptional. I've heard this often from other runners, that your first marathon will be important to almost everyone you know. They will lose care and concern by the 2nd. Some of that is to be expected, but some of it may reveal who truly cares for you and it can be a bit of an eye-opener. Learning to filter through those folk who are true to you and your dreams is important to be able to continue on with your goals. We need positive reinforcements for our mental health!
2) Make peace with the solitude and dig deep. Unlike many other sports, running is usually not a team sport. It is a solitary and harsh battle against your own beast. Enjoy the sport of running as a meditative time of your day. Some runners need groups to run with and that can be very helpful, the energy of a pack is amazing and can sometimes pull you through better than alone. However, on race day, it is often just you. Learn to dig deep and generate your own energy on a run.
3) There is no right shoe, short, sock, shirt, or hat. Everyone will want to tell you their product is best, that running barefoot feeling the earth is the way to go, running supported in orthodics is what you need, etc. NO! As the "Running with the Kenyans" author experienced, it's not all what you hear it to be. Run in what works for you. It may take a couple trial and errors with shoes and clothing, you may have to waste a little money in the discovery process, but only you can determine what will truly work for you. Learn about your gait and foot strike, work on your form, but beyond that, anything goes. Try not to let anyone sway you too much toward a product that isn't right for you.
4) Don't let other runners diminish your efforts. Most runners will be supportive of each other, but now and then you'll come across the "overly-competitive-for-no-reason" runner. Try to remind yourself that you are competing against no one and focus on your personal goal.
5) Believe in yourself and arm yourself with hope. There will be injuries, bad races, and illnesses along the journey. An unexpected injury or a virus may set in at the worst moment. Sometimes our digestive system will surprisingly turn on us. We are all only human and perfection is rarely met by anyone. There is only so much we can control, the rest is up to chance. Remember that there will also be good races and great efforts as well! Believe in yourself no matter what and always keep hope alive!
What mental hurdles took you by surprise?
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