Mental miles for 9

Saturday was my second long run of Chicago Marathon training.
…and it was a far more ‘mental’ 9 miles than I would’ve liked.

This after just virtually cheering on this girl through her longer and longer ‘long’ runs leading to her first half marathon, and reminding her to get out of her head and to just trust her body — and here I am struggling with the exact same thing.


That’s what I was thinking about while I struggled to get out of my head on Saturday. I didn’t talk much at all to Scott, was too busy mentally chiding myself for allowing my brain to take over. This mental mind game went on for a good 4-5 miles before I finally said something to Scott.

“I’m having a mental day today.”

To which Scott said: “Stop. It’s a beautiful day. We’re spending time together. It’s been a busy week. Just enjoy this time.”

Just that simple comment was what I needed to start turning things around up in my head. I won’t say that it was a sudden ‘lightbulb moment’ or anything, but it helped me to start to pull myself out of my head and to truly see the beauty around me while starting to let my body work, my mind wander.
…vs. letting my mind ‘work’ and my body suffer for it.

It helped that the weather was ideal for this run. It was low 60s, very breezy, bright sunshine — downright gorgeous. It also helped to be running along one of our favorite routes, right by the water for portions of it — seeing the sun glisten on the water, the boats floating around out there on their slips, so effortlessly and calmly. Just seeing the Β serene waters helped me to calm down.

We wound up doing an extra loop on our return trek back over the bridge to give the bridge time to go back down after letting a boat pass through. This switch-up helped me tremendously. It meant that after we crossed the bridge, making our way back home — we only had a couple of miles to go which helped me to get the whole “long run” anxiety out of my system. Now we were just running home, essentially.

It’s those little mental tricks that sometimes make all the difference in a mental run like Saturday’s. The comment from Scott, plus the switch up in our route, and I was able to overcome the mental shenanigans going on in my head.

And when all was said and done? We rounded that last corner and made our way home — and I felt great. I didn’t feel like I’d just run 9 miles. Sure, I needed to stretch (like whoa), but other than that? I felt strong and totally conditioned for the distance. Which, after the fact, really boosted my confidence.

I just have to remember that not every run is going to be without it’s bumps and bruises — and every single run will teach me something new about myself and my abilities as a runner.

…2 weeks down, 16 to go. Whoa. πŸ˜‰


38 thoughts on “Mental miles for 9

  1. The mental aspect of the long run is something that I’ve always struggled with too. It’s very easy to dread it because it’s longer. I’ve found that the run usually ends up being much easier than I’ve played it up in my mind though. And I’m usually dreading it for no reason at all.

    • Exactly. And that’s what I realized once I got almost to the end of my run — I was surprised that I wound up feeling pretty good by the end AND that I recovered so well from it. I guess my body is stronger than I realize and my brain just needs to catch up to that fact, hopefully sooner rather than later!

  2. Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step -Lao-tzu I love this quote and repeat it every time I start a new goal. It may seems daunting at times, but try to enjoy the process. Easier said than done, I know first hand. In many ways the marathon is like a pregnancy and birth (you may have heard this comparison before) but so true. Enjoy every moment and when you wake that morning to run Chicago (give birth) you will go through many emotions. It may hurt, you may question why you are doing this, you may even want to quit, but your life will never be the same when you cross the finish line. Happy running beautiful girl!

    • Wow. I had actually never heard marathon training as equal to childbirth — but wow, is that spot-on or what?? (not that I’ve EVER gone through either experience yet LOL).
      I am totally taking this concept with me in every single way — I especially love the thought of waking up on race day and knowing it’ll be a range of crazy emotions but at the end, I’ll be a changed woman for it. In the best possible way. THANK YOU for this, SO SO needed!

    • I know, you’re so right. I was SO MAD at myself for letting my head “win” for the majority of this run. At least the last mile wasn’t too awful, mentally?? the little victories, right?

  3. I’ve been struggling with my long runs too. For me, it’s not mental because I truly enjoy them, but it has been hard to literally fit in the time. Next weekend is my make or break it weekend– I NEED to get the miles in or I’m going to full-on panic πŸ™‚

    Happy training!

    • That’s the thing – I usually DO enjoy the long runs for the most part, I just really REALLY was up in my head for this one and it was driving me nuts. Totally took the joy out of the run for me which I hated so much. I’m hoping that my running this week will get back on track, back to happy running as much as possible.

      Good luck this week!!

  4. I love Scott’s comment – so true. So often I forget to just appreciate what’s around me. I try to do that more when I start getting stuck in my head running or whatever I’m doing. I’m glad that you were able to get back on track too. You totally are conditioned for this and yes, not every run is going to be perfect. But you learn and it makes you stronger for the next run.

    • I have a bad habit of not truly “seeing” all that’s around me — and Scott has a GREAT habit of reigning me back in when I need it. He saved me on this run over the weekend. I need him in my life, clearly. πŸ˜‰

  5. Glad you were able to pull out of the mentalness and enjoy the majority of your run! That speaks volumes. And pretty soon you will be so used to your long runs again that you won’t even notice πŸ˜‰ (of course I say this – the queen of mental runs!)

    • I HOPE you’re right on this one sis, I mean really — I just have to get out of my own way and just BE in the moment, without fear. I talk all the time about just running, and now it’s time I continue to do just that. Same with YOU sis!

    • This is so true — I need to remember this. It’s very much about the journey, and far less about the race day itself. All the work I put into it to get there and THEN celebrating that while racing something I never thought was possible or feasible!

  6. Awesome that you felt so good! I have those moments too on long run days, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And having people to run with makes a huge differenct, too. Congrats on having two weeks down!

  7. When you go on runs that are long (esp as your mileage really starts to increase), you will be running for upwards of 2-3 hours. It’s impossible to assume that the WHOLE 3 hours is going to be butterflies and sunshine. LOL. WIthout fail, I have moments of doubt, worry, etc during my long runs. Sometimes they last just a few moments – other times they last miles. But, the key is learning to pull yourself out of those moments – and keep pushing. It will happen during the marathon too – so the more practice you get with this NOW will only help you on race day.
    One thing I really focus on now is just thinking about 1 mile at a time. I don’t say, “Hey, I have to run x pace for x miles”…it’s too much of a kick in the pants for me to do that. Instead, I take one mile at a time. I have a plan of how I want the miles to go – usually first mile is about 30-45 sec slower than what I plan to get down to, 2nd mile is within 10-15 sec and by mile 3 and I am in the zone. My goal is just to hit that time goal for one mile at a time. It helps me and helps break up the long run monotony!
    Great post as always, Jess =)

    • LOVE your feedback, Michelle. You are such a wise woman/runner — I always appreciate your insight, seriously. Just like your blog post from today, I was nodding the entire time while reading that AND while reading this comment. You’re right – it’s not all puppies and rainbows on those long runs but I CAN do things to make the long run days more enjoyable, less mental and more focused if I try some of these things like you said. Thank you!!

  8. I believe I mentioned the other day in my vlog that the beauty of having friends (especially those shooting for the same types of goals) is that the advice and pep talks we dish out usually end up popping back up in our own lives at just the right time. πŸ˜‰ There are three things that I have been doing that have SERIOUSLY helped my running:

    1. Breaking the runs down into half miles if I need to. (For some reason, I push through them easier that way.) Intervals are really kicking ass right now.

    2. I break my runs down into “it’s just my short run route to go” type sections. (Like you mentioned above…just “running home” now.

    3. I run sans music. I stopped doing this about a month ago, and I haven’t looked back. Something told me to run without it one day, and now, if I try to run with it, I feel like my head is foggy…clouded with noise that actually makes it harder to run. I feel like my head is clear now…I’m in the moment more often and able to appreciate everything that surrounds me.

    These hard runs are humbling, and I know you’ve GOT this. I love that despite the fact that you’re the most clear-minded, mentally strong woman I know…and you’re still humbled by the harder runs you experience and it strengthens your confidence.

    • God I love your novel length blog comments!!! And LOVE how a lot of what we’re both going through right now is sorta jiving all at once. It helps to have someone to “go through this” with, even if just virtually, huh?

      1 – YES. I am going to try to start breaking my runs down more often in my head. I’m a big fan of “run the mile you’re in” but I’m not always great at sticking to it. I need to get better there.

      2 – I LOVE those mental tricks. I do them often, seriously whatever works right??

      3 – I never run with music either. It helps me to be “one” with the run if that makes sense, and allows me to truly embrace the moments, the scenery, the sounds around me, and to chat with Scott here and there too. I LOVE running “naked” in that sense.

      Running is so freakin’ humbling it’s not even funny. I LOVE that about it!!!

  9. A wise friend once told me that she worries when she has too many blissful runs in a row and really appreciates the ones where she struggles. I recently came to understand what she mean by this the hard way. The mental challenges are all a part of the training process. Runs like this one will help you to build up mental fortitude to get through the final miles of a marathon when at that point, it is all mental.

  10. Sounds like you had, what I like to call, a ‘character building run’ πŸ™‚
    Your training will take you on all sorts of runs….it’s a beautiful process (even if it may not always FEEL that way)! (And I LOVE reading all about it!)

  11. I had an 8 miler like this a few weeks ago, and it really whooped my butt. Kevin told me we are going to push the last mile, and we did, and it was our fastest mile, and I felt amazing afterwards. Sometimes we just have these runs, but when it’s all said and done with you did the run and now feel amazing. Continue to work on that mental game as your runs get longer and longer – you know where to find me if you need to talk about it!

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