If you run angry and you know it, your face will surely show it...and so will your times.
In 2011, I was shooting to break two hours in the half marathon. I trained well, but I wasn’t sure how it would go. And then it was raining the morning of the race. Still, I was determined to have fun. I smiled so much in that race that it’s possible people thought I was crazy.
Guess what? I beat my goal by almost 8 minutes.
Unfortunately, I’ve had many other races where I’ve been the angry runner. I would curse running and myself for signing up. My complaining about running before, during and after races even became a joke between me and my friends.
Recently, I ran a 50-mile relay with five of my running buddies. This was our fifth running of the race and it was the hottest year yet. My first leg was on mostly single-track trail that was mostly downhill for four miles in the trees. It was warm because it was muggy in the forest, but it was still earlier in the day and it was comfortable enough. I was able to pass a number of runners, thanks in large part to the downhill nature of the route.
But my second leg of the race came around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It was about the same distance and it was flat, but the route was on concrete and asphalt. Now, it was 85 degrees. I took extra water with me and left my ego in the van.
I ran as hard as I could as comfortably as I could, but unfortunately I was almost two minutes per mile slower than I had been that morning! Then, my phone stopped working because it was overheating in my back pocket. And, strangely, my knee hurt.
A year ago, I would’ve let all of that bother me. I would’ve been angry. I would’ve denounced running: I, hereby, declare this the last race I shall ever run!
Luckily, I’ve been practicing mindfulness and staying grateful in the moment I am in. Instead of beating myself up over being slower, I acknowledged the elements are what they are. Instead of throwing my phone in the river, I tucked my earbuds away and enjoyed the sounds around me. Instead of crying about my knee, I reminded myself I could walk if it hurt too much.
I looked to the sky and noticed it was a beautiful day. There was a slight breeze rustling the leaves of the cottonwood trees. I saw happy families taking a stroll.
Getting angry during a run is easy, but it makes the running hard. Once I let go of all the things that were bothering me, the running actually became easier, and my knee pain went away.
So, next time you’re having a tough run, here are three things to remember:
1. You can walk.
There’s no rule that says you must run the entire race or training run. And there’s no shame in walking, either. I ran my first marathon using a run-walk-run approach. I finished with a respectable first-marathon time and a huge smile.
2. Stay in the moment.
Don’t think about the finish line, don’t think about tomorrow, don’t even think about the next mile. Think about what you are doing right at the moment you are doing it. Focus on how you feel. Check in with yourself. Am I okay? Do I need to walk? Then, look at your surroundings and notice them. Maybe you are running next to a beautiful lake or maybe it’s a discarded shopping cart. How do your surroundings make you feel?
3. Remind yourself you chose to do this.
Speak the truth to yourself. Nobody is making you run. You chose to do it. If you don’t like it, reevaluate why you are doing it or change your situation.
Now, get out there and have a great run!
Kerrie Turcic is a runner from Maple Valley, Wash. Kerrie is currently a copywriter by day, and also a