Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thank You, Legs


I really don't want to eat these raisins I packed. I knew I wouldn't want them. Why do I do this to myself?  Oh, it's because packing a lunch with no fruits and vegetables seems like something I shouldn't do, and the jelly on my pbj doesn't count!  

Anyway, this weekend I was at mrp's parents' house.  Peanut needed to nap and he isn't so good in the crib. I wanted to make sure he slept well so I decided to lay down with him on mrp's childhood bed. I slept for a few minutes, but needed something else to pass the time.  I gingerly got up from the bed while peanut slept and started rooting around mrp's old stuff. I found a book on sports psychology. YES!  So, I gingerly got back in the bed next to peanut and dove in. The first part of the book dealt with confidence.  I read through it, but decided that's not my problem really. Sure, sometimes I struggle with an accute lack of confidence attack, but it always passes quickly. In the macro-sense I'm confident, I think.

The next section was on self-talk.  Now we're talking (is this not even a bad pun?) This is my problem! And here, apparently, were the solutions to that problem. Thank you, sports psychology book!  Well, not so fast.  This is just part of my problem.  I read on and the next chapter was on relaxing.  BINGO!  My main weakness as a runner is my anxiety, stress and the tension those things cause in my body.  Negative self-talk just adds to that problem to the point where they become something I can't just deep breathe away before a race.  Those two things just feed off of each other! When I think about it, life gets me all stressed and anxious as a general rule.  And then I have a big race coming up on top of that which adds to the stress and anxiety so I'm even more stressed and anxious.  And then I start psyching myself out by bagging on myself for having a bad workout (because I'm tense) or because I got a stitch (because I'm tense) or because I can't relax when I should (um, because I'm tense!)  

I was good. I just finished my raisins.

So I was so excited to read what the good book had to say about solving these problems.  For self-talk it said it takes practice, but I can replace my negative self-talk with positive self-talk.  Apparently, I'm far from alone in my propensity to psych myself out. The book says it's almost akin to human nature to default to negative self-talk.  Most of us have to reprogram our brains to be kind to ourselves. How do we do it? First we have to figure out what to tell ourselves to zip the negative lip.  Some example phrases to tell ourselves are, "Stop it! This is fun!" or "Enough! Get out there and do what you enjoy!"  Personally, I need something snappy and short: "Shut up and have some fun!"  Yeah, I think I'll use that one!!  The next step is to have some positive phrases readily available--i.e. ones I have practiced saying to myself in training--that I can easily look to to fill the void left when the negative talk left the building. Otherwise, the negative talk will fill the space! Here are something I might say to myself: "I'm happy to be out here!" "I love racing!" "I'm tough and strong and ready to do this!" "I love pushing through the hurt!"   The thing is, all these statements are more true than the negative statements that I end up sabotaging myself with too.

As for relaxing, the book said this takes practice too. Shocking, really! But, first it necessitates slowing down the breathing and concentrating on belly breathing.  This is straight out our Bradley childbirth classes, so I have this nailed! I just need to do it more often.  The other thing it said to do is visualize being relaxed.  What this means is to think of how you feel when you're relaxed and write down a description of it.  For me, I always think back to my first marathon.  I was so excited to be there and I was so confident in my ability to meet my goal.  I had a master plan that was very reasonable and I stuck to it while also going with the flow.  I enjoyed every mile.  I remember getting to the 20th mile mark and suddenly realizing I was going to do it.  There was no better feeling in the world.  That was my slowest marathon, but my best. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed every mile!  I was alive and in the moment, so appreciative of my body and my discipline and hard work that got me there.

And now here I am 4 months after having a baby.  When I was pregnant I had no idea what would happen after I had the baby.  Would I ever be able to run again? Would I ever lose all the weight? Would I ever have time or energy to train? What ifs for miles! But here I am.  Just 4 months post-partum and easily running 40-50 miles per week and feeling stronger than ever! So what if I'm not as fast as I was a year and a half ago?! I'm out here and I'm having the time of my life!  Thank you, legs!

1 comment:

jsmarslender said...

This is an encouraging post. Thanks much!