Words to Run By
Several years ago, a colleague had just finished her first half-marathon and I was getting ready for mine. I asked her for advice: What got her through all 13.1 miles? One of the key tips she gave me was to find a mantra that I could repeat to myself when the going got tough. On race day, she had even written hers—trust your training—on the palm of her hand. It gave her what felt like a super-secret source of strength, and reminded her that she had worked hard and logged countless miles in preparation for the big event: She was ready.
More recently and five marathons later for me, I was chatting with a woman who was dealing with major nerves as her first 26.2-er drew near. Finding a mantra was the best piece of advice I could think to give her because, as most of you runners out there probably already know, racing is not just a physical effort; it’s a mental one. Anything that tricks, distracts, or refocuses your mind to keep you running strong, mile after mile, is a very good thing.
Where to begin in finding your favorite motivational phrase? Try out one of these during your next round of speedwork or a long run and see if it inspires you:
- Everything forward. I like this one not only because of its positive, compelling message, but also because it can help correct your posture when you’re becoming fatigued. By reminding you that you should be leaning in with your upper body rather than pulling back, it can help you run faster and more efficiently, and it is a great counterpart to this next phrase…
- Nose before toes. So much better than the fratty phrase it’s playing off of, right? This idiom will keep you running light, with your head up and torso tilted forward so that you fall into your footsteps.
- It’s supposed to be hard. This is what I say to myself when I’m really struggling late in a race or when I feel like quitting during speed drills. Its companion piece is, If this was easy, everyone would be doing it. Both are loosely adapted from a quote in “A League of Their Own,” which is more than a little embarrassing to admit, but I find these lines too helpful not to share. You can totally mock me in the comments section.
- Train hard; race easy. Races are never actually easy—unless, I suppose, you’re crashing one of those fun runs for really little kids, but I don’t think they’ll actually give you a trophy, so maybe don’t try that—but this slogan still helps on mornings when I’m out there on the trail, and I’m trying to make the splits outlined in my training plan, and I’m wondering why I’m doing this to myself and why I didn’t just stay in bed for another couple hours like the rest of the world. It’s because training counts, and because…
- I am better, faster, stronger, than everyone else. Occasionally I need to get a little egomaniacal with my self-talk, and this chant, while a total lie, does the job. The “stronger” part also triggers me to pump my arms, thus helping me speed up. Hey, as long as you never say it aloud, it’s OK to be a little jerky with your internal cheerleading, right?
So, what inspires you to keep putting one foot in front of the other? Is it just thoughts of beer and a bubble bath waiting for you at the end, or do you have your own mantra that never fails to get you moving? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section, below!inspiration, mind over matter, newbie, training
18 Sep, 2013