By Gary Dudney There comes a point in any race, or for that matter in performing any hard-fought task, when fear and self-doubt creep into your thinking and your inner dialogue turns negative. “I can’t keep this up. I didn’t train hard enough for this. The pain is unbearable. I’m not going to make it. I’m going to fail.” Allow these thoughts to continue and they will undermine you, sap your will, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anxious over failing, runners often tense up making it even harder to move smoothly through a full stride. That is why sport psychologist JoAnn Dahlkoetter in her book, Your Performing Edge, advises athletes to “stay relentlessly positive.” One technique I learned from her book has helped me stay positive and determined to reach my goal in races of all distances and has even given me a tool for getting through difficult situations in other areas of my life. The technique involves getting to that moment in a race when you feel absolutely at your worst. The fatigue and pain have become overwhelming. Your energy is gone. Every step is a monumental effort. What now? Don’t pretend it’s not happening or try to ignore it. That will only make it worse. What you need to do is acknowledge what you’re feeling. Face up to it and then tell yourself, “Okay, this is how it feels when I’m really trying my hardest, doing my best, reaching for my goal. This is actually normal. This is how it is supposed to feel.” In other words, make how you’re feeling, as horrible as that might be, a positive thing. Take the worst moment in the race and turn it upside down. After all, it’s not supposed to be comfortable. Achieving almost anything worth having is going to be a struggle and so you’re just feeling what that struggle is like in running. In my book, The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running, I illustrate this technique and many others that will help you get through the toughest parts of your run. I also talk about how to see your running as a journey of self-discovery and how to get the most out of your running experiences. Staying relentlessly positive works well for running, and you’re likely to find, for just about everything else. Gary Dudney is the author of The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running, a fresh and unique perspective to the mental side of the topic of running. It offers readers multiple ways to significantly deepen, enlighten, and enrich their running experiences. Brought to you by CPG News and Information Services
By Gary Dudney, author of The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running Running can seem very much like a “just do it” kind of thing. You run. You sweat. When you’re done, you’re happy with yourself. End of story, move on. Why would you need to get all thoughtful about it? Why would you need the case for reading running books? Well, because for many people running becomes a lot more than just getting a little exercise. Delve more deeply into what’s going on in your mind out there on a run and you’ll be surprised at the richness of the experience. Why is running such a stress reliever? Why do you feel so empowered after a run? Why does running give you such a blast of self-esteem? Understanding the mental side of running can help you answer these questions and not incidentally help make you a much better runner. It can also make you better at handling stress in other areas of life. Over the past 20 years, I’ve run 52 one hundred mile races. My record for the first 26 hundred milers I ran was 16 successes and 10 failures. Not a great record. But then I reeled off 26 straight finishes to get to my total of 52. The difference wasn’t in any physical changes I made, like more or different training. The difference was that I thoroughly studied the mental side of running and got my head right for dealing with the tough challenges you face when you run hard or long. If you’re running, you should be reading about running. There are many very inspiring running books out there nowadays about people who have transformed their lives in amazing ways through running. And then there are books like mine, The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running that help you focus on the mental journey that running takes you on and offers strategies for overcoming the toughest challenges. These strategies help you run better but they can also be applied to other challenges in your life. About Gary Dudney Long time columnist for Ultrarunning magazine, Gary Dudney is thrilled to share his hard-won understanding of the mind of the runner from being “out there” himself during 40 years of running. He’s written advice pieces and adventure stories for all the major running magazines. He’s completed over 200 marathons and ultramarathons, including fifty 100 mile races. This blog is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services.
By Gary Dudney My book The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running could just as easily have been entitled How to Embrace the Suck or Embracing the Suck because one way or the other learning how to “embrace the suck” is part of every chapter in the book. Now why is that? Running has a mysterious way of getting under your skin. You set out on a little jog looking to get some exercise and the next thing you know you’re a committed, even a fanatical runner. But what is not mysterious about running, is that eventually it is going to suck. Train hard at all, try lowering your PR (personal record) for the 10K, or take on those last six excruciating, devastating, soul-crushing miles of a marathon, and you’ll know what I mean. So which is it? Is running this wonderful thing that you are drawn to like a duck to water or is it luring you into “it sucks to be you” territory. Both…and that is a good thing. Running does feel natural and invigorating. You feel your body adapting, getting stronger. But inevitably as you run faster and farther and push yourself harder, you will get to a bad place. You will feel awful, and suddenly you will find yourself in a crisis of character. How will you respond? Will you slack off and quit or will you find a way to take on the challenge, embrace the suck, and triumph over the adversity? Running gives you that opportunity over and over again. But isn’t that the most rewarding thing about life, when you have to overcome adversity, when you have to face down the hard things and win through? No wonder so much of The Tao of Running is about how best to embrace the suck. When it comes to getting the most out of your running, that’s really the whole point! About Gary Dudney Long time columnist for Ultrarunning magazine, Gary Dudney is thrilled to share his hard-won understanding of the mind of the runner from being “out there” himself during 40 years of running. He’s written advice pieces and adventure stories for all the major running magazines. He’s completed over 200 marathons and ultramarathons, including fifty 100 mile races.