It's All in Your Head

Let us take a moment to celebrate the 100, most intelligent, beautiful, loveable people to grace the internet:

I have 100 followers. 

If the box of followers was on the left side of this page, this would be awesome

I think I'm supposed to throw a giveaway or something, but the only thing I can think of to give away is this Homer Simpson rubik's cube thing that we don't want, but I won't led the Gentleman throw away.  I keep thinking it is going to the PERFECT gift for someone some day.

Fact: I don't officially "follow" any blogs, so I don't even know what it means.  I exclusively read blogs in my Google Reader.  So more than anything, I am truly and absolutely grateful to you 100 who choose to support this blog by clicking "follow," even -- and especially -- since I don't reciprocate.  But I promise, if you leave a comment I will always check out your page.  I'm pretty sure that if you like me, I will like you.

Goodness.  Edited to add: at some point shortly after posting, the number fell back to 99 followers.  Someone get on up there before this post gets any more inaccurate.

Now.  Let's get mental.

I attended a social event in my law firm office a few weeks ago.  Gentle schmoozing turned into a serious conversation about running with a young guy from a bank office that came to the event.

It slowly, humbly came out of him that he ran an incredibly hilly marathon in 2:47...and that he has an extremely rare degenerative arch disease (1 in 30 million people have this.  Basically, his arches collapsed).

He talked a lot about how he was able to do this because running is primarily mental.  You train your body to do what you want it to....but even more than that, you are training your brain.  And if you can't train your brain, well that is a huge part of why you won't succeed with your goals.

I was cheesily moved by this conversation.  He was such an unsuspecting runner, just looked like an ordinary dorky banker.  Something even slightly autistic about him -- the way he talked about how he trained for runs and races through photographic memory.  For example, instead of pacing himself by miles on a Garmin, he paces himself with a normal watch because he can memorize that from a certain tree to a certain stop light is one mile....after driving a marathon course just one time.

And the way that he described mentally pushing through the last mile of a marathon was brilliant.  Despite a 6:25 average pace (with hills!), he ran his 26th marathon mile under 5:00 minutes, because he mentally escapes his body.

If it's all mental, are all these hours and hours of runs leading up to races just training our brain?  Are we adapting our brain to think that 20 miles at xx pace is safe and comfortable, and then training our brains to accept that the last 10k will hurt no matter what?

He said when you hit the last 10k, you have to convince yourself that you are fresh.  You have to believe this.  He also mentioned other mental tricks, such as having debates in his head.  Making points and counterpoints.  Thinking about his work. 

This may be an obvious aspect of training for some of you, but it is a new idea to me.  I want to approach races with this new strategy.  I want to toughen up my mind and learn how to trick it from it's urge in the second half of races to tell me I'm wiped and to ease it up.

Unfortunately, going into a marathon in less than 2 weeks now, I am mentally deteriorating.  I have no excitement at all about this.  I have a lot of fear for how painful it will be with a hopeless hip (yet I refuse to withdraw my bib -- I will stand at the starting line no matter what).

I'm going to try my best to build a strong mind and attitude towards this marathon, and to battle defeating thoughts while running.   I think this is something that may take a very long time -- years even -- to really master.  Especially with a stubborn brain like mine.

Do you actively train your brain when you run....or just your body?