My Mom recently asked me what I’m thinking about while I’m running a race. Especially on my longer races. First of all, there is so much stuff going on my mind, when I’m running a race, or when I’m running in training. When I cross the starting line at a race though, I am listening to the conversations of the runners around me and fuel a little bit of their positivity inside of me. Thoughts while running are the key to success.
Thoughts while running: A wide array of expectations
These conversations at the beginning of a race always fascinate me, because they are always inevitably about what a runner thinks he or she can or cannot do in the race. It’s such a wide array of expectations—or lack thereof—that I hear. One person will be excited that he is going at an 8-minute per mile pace. While someone else will tell a friend that the plan is to run a few feet and then walk throughout the race. I spend time wondering what causes someone to have high expectations or low hopes.
The first mile is a liar
As the runners settle in and the crowd spreads out into the different pace groups, I think how peaceful it is. There is the rhythmic sound of feet hitting the pavement and sometimes shouts of encouragement from volunteers, but other than that there is a calm that settles over the race. Most likely that’s when I turn on my music to get into my zone. I think about that the first mile is a liar as my body tries to find its rhythm and settle into a good pace. The first mile always hurts a bit. After that first mile, my body can be turned on autopilot and I can think about other things besides getting my body to do what I want.
Imagine a world without cancer
I love watching people while I run and I seek in their energy and how inspiring they all are to me. I’m always surrounded by so many great runners so it’s an honor for me to be a part of this. There are people who have beat a crippling illness (“Imagine a world without cancer” always gives me goosebumps in every race), others who are using running to prove that they are stronger than whatever is holding them back in life. What I consider a simple joy in my life can be a lifeline to others.
As I pass people or they pass me, I imagine their struggles or their joys. You might wonder how I could have any idea about what they are going through, but a lot can be revealed as you watch people moving through a race. You see people wearing tees saying “For Mom”.
Let’s do the self talk: Thoughts while running
Sometimes I have to do a lot of self talk to keep from stopping (YES, I’ve been there, too) and at this point, I have to think about all the reasons that I need to keep going. I think about my family and loved ones watching the race on TV while there are sending me their positive thoughts, I picture my grandfather up on a hill I have to climb and just run it for him, I run certain parts, or miles of the race for specific persons and focus just on them and my love for them for the entire time. Those thoughts are the best: My family and loved ones.
And after the race I enjoy standing near the finish line after I have finished. The stories that cross the line with the runners are written all over their faces.
If I am just out for a training run, I am listening to all the sounds in the neighborhoods around me, I am planning out my day, working through problems, writing articles in my head, or just letting my mind go blissfully blank. My next race will be on March 19. Let’s see what I’ll be thinking about this time.