March 5, 2011

The Mental Game

Posted in Training at 10:14 pm by Lisa

After I tell someone that I’m training for a marathon, the usual comment is “oh, there’s no way that I could that.” My usual comeback is that it’s really a mental issue – just about anyone can do a marathon. What’s really hard about it are the mental games that you have to play – it’s such a long training period, and face it, a lot of these runs are just boring and hard. To be serious about it, you have to give up some things (I’ve missed two trips on the Israel trail so far, as well as another one coming up. I’ve decided against some runs and races with Etgarim which would have been a lot more fun.) But what can you do? You basically have to commit to the training because while maybe some people can wing it, it’s an effort to do the 42km and you have to put in the time.

So I’ve been thinking that one of my weak points in my training is my mental strength. I’ve started running again with Lior, in order to improve my times. And inevitably, I get to a part of the run where it’s just hard and I want to stop. Not slow down, just stop completely. And then the whining starts. “I can’t anymore, I have to slow down”. Sometimes he pushes me on (that can either be some verbal encouragement or an actual physical push) and sometimes he lets me get away with it (I suspect those are the times when he had a late night drinking the night before and is just as relieved as I am to slow it down). In any event, in all cases after those runs, I’m a bit annoyed with myself for “giving up” so easily. It’s really just a few more minutes to tough it out, what’s the big deal. And it’s not a physical thing – I could do more if I tried. But it’s the mental aspect that gets me. I start in thinking it’s too hard, it’s too fast, I’m too tired, I can’t do it – and that gets me every time. Definitely something to work on.

Yesterday’s run was a brutal one – 28 kilometers – and I didn’t expect it to be so hard. A little scary to think that in about 5 weeks I’m planning on going another 14km on top of that 28. I guess this is where the mental strength comes into play. “I’ve done it before.” “Just take it 1 km at a time.” Zone out. Just focus on putting one step in front of the other. etc. etc.

In the end though, I did it. I can’t say it was pretty – it was a true slog and I finished way slower than I would have liked. I’m only now getting over the effects of the run (immediately after, I met up with Raz for coffee and he offered me his grandparent’s walker – which I most definitely could have used!).

In any event, I think I know the reasons (or excuses) for it being so difficult but whatever the reason, I finished it in the end so I’m going to chalk it up to a victory in mind over matter. And that’s actually what counts in the end.

I’ve got one of those training runs with Lior scheduled for tomorrow morning (another 6am run – but how can I complain when we’re running on the boardwalk, just 50ft from the Mediterranean sea?) The goal is to get through the run without too many negative thoughts – and if so, I’ll consider that a win as well.

I’m going to wear one of my new nifty headbands – modeled below by Liam and Dylan. Aren’t those two adorable? (Liam’s ears don’t normally stick out that way but I think Elaine had to use them to keep the headbands from falling off his face!)

I’m off to bed – early day tomorrow!



  1. Judy and Bill said,

    Loved the post, most especially the pictures at the end. I give you enormous credit for even thinking about the training and running the marathons, let alone doing them. You cannot complain if you are running on the boardwalk with the sea to look at!!!!

    How is work?
    Mygreat-nephew is coming to go into the Aish-Michal Army Training program in early May. It is for a year and then he will decide whether to stay in Israel and complete the second year or come back home and start college. Needless to say his grandparents and his aunt and uncle are nervous about his being in the army training program, but he is really looking forward to it. Only an 18year old would!

    Ta for now.
    Love, Judy (and Bill too)

  2. My Sister said,

    The models are adorable!!!!!

    Just put one foot in front of the other! Just think for every KM you run, you can eat another cookie!!!

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