Friday, October 22, 2010

Fit Friday: mind games

I truly believe that fitness, especially running, is mostly a mind game.  Our bodies are capable of far more than we give them credit for.  The human body has changed over the course of time, adapting to various environments.  But still we are prime for physical exertion.  Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers.  They had to walk countless miles through their life.  The whole reason we run marathons is historical legend.

Yes, extra weight and lack of physical activity can make exercise hard or uncomfortable.  But once it becomes more of a habit, the challenge you face at increasing your fitness level is more about your mind than it is your body.  Your body is primed and ready to respond to whatever you demand of it.

When I started training for the half-marathon in November, I was running 2-3x a week, averaging probably 8-10 miles a week.  I would occasionally get in a longer run of 5-6 miles, but mostly my "long" runs were 4 miles.  The first week of my training schedule was a total of 21 miles, more than doubling my average.

I put my body to the challenge, and it met it. 
I said to my legs run, and they said how far. 
I said to my lungs expand, and they said for how long. 
I said to my mind you can do this. 
And my mind said, I don't know.  But if the legs are going to pump and the lungs are going to expand, I will do my best to keep up.
So I turned up the music, and ran to the beat and didn't give my mind much of a choice.

Last Saturday after running over 10 miles (thanks to a Nike+ that messed up at the end)...
My legs were a little numb and jello-like.  But after some stretching, they carried me through the rest of the day.  They were sore walking up stairs or chasing a child, but it was more of a discomfort not a pain.
My lungs said, if we needed to, we could go a little further.  (Good, because you do!)

And my mind said, wow.  We really did this.
I was amazed that I had just run for almost two hours.
While in some ways it felt like I had, in other ways it didn't.
Because my body was made to be used like this.  And I think my mind is catching up.

All of the sudden, running those 13.1 miles doesn't seem so bad.  And my goals are more in reach.  I still may not hit that ultimate goal of a 2-hour half marathon, but barring injury or some other odd circumstance, I will get pretty close.

Your body, it is strong.  It will rise to the occasion. 
The first few miles are always the hardest for me.  But once I get past the second mile, I start to find my groove.  Those early aches and pains and stiffness fades.  My muscles are warm.  I feel fluid.

Your legs, they will carry you.  Your lungs will pull in the oxygen and feed it to your muscles.
It's your mind that says you can't.  It's your mind that doesn't want to.

Your mind, that's where the battle is. 

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