Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mental Game

Two Saturdays ago I set out on a run with a couple of friends in the Whiskeytown hills.  We were planning on being gone for about 3 and 1/2 hours but after about 3 hours we realized how depressingly far we were from our end point.  Right about then, I lost a battle in my mind.  I began to hate running.  I was angry that we were so far away, fearful that we were drinking out of a stream because we had no water and defeated about the hills that were bound to be awaiting us. 

Up until this point in my life, I've never lost a mental battle like this in sports.  If I set my mind to something, I accomplish it.  This time, I slipped.  My thoughts began to take me places that I couldn't pull out of.  I was desperate.  There were several hills we came to that made me want to weep.  All I wanted to do was lay down and cry until someone came and rescued me.  I have never felt so mentally defeated in my life.  After walking for miles, we were picked up at mile 24 and had been on our feet for 5 hours and 5 minutes.

That was an important run.  It taught me that I can get through desperate times as long as I don't let my mind spin out of control.  It taught me how important water and calories are.  It taught me that I'm not a quitter.

Fast forward to today.  We set out on the same run today.  I had my mind made up that I would not quit and that I would finish the run.  I maintained my hydration and calorie intake and decided that pace didn't matter, finishing did.  The run was difficult, just like I remembered.  But I finished the full 25.5 miles and crushed my time from a couple of weeks back finishing in 4 hours and 50 minutes. 

The hell run made me stronger.  Mentally stronger.  Physically stronger.