I was having lunch with a friend of mine the other day and inevitably the conversation turned to running. More specifically, the upcoming season and personal goals we are setting for ourselves. Quickly she began to compare herself to other runners that we know and pointed out how she could not be “that” fast. I have heard this kind of talk from many running friends and I find it very frustrating. People set imaginary boundaries for themselves and will ultimately lumber forward into the season with self imposed mediocrity.
Let me tell you all a little secret. I am not “that” fast! Sure, my finish times may show otherwise, but that is because I don’t set self defeating boundaries or tell myself that a certain runner in my age group in uncatchable. Everyone’s body does have a limit but our mental limit is completely under our control. The first year of my racing life was made up of all 5k’s and I could not break 23:30 until I started to make up for my lack of speed by racing smarter. If you keep racing the same finish times, do something different. Change your strategy, get angry during your short run and use that energy to give you focus and speed. In a race, throw that Garmin lodestone back in your vehicle, you don’t need it for a 5 or 10k! Believe in yourself! Most runners I see are glued to the digital display and are deliberately slowing themselves down because the almighty Garmin has spoken. You are better off not knowing you are running faster than what you “believe” you can do. Once I conquered these issues, my old pr was destroyed and a new one was set at 20:05 that same season.
Not every part of running is physical. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the physical aspect is only 40%. The other 60% is made up of strategy, mental focus and strength of character. You have it within yourselves to accomplish great things yet you hold back, why? There are some that are born into this world feet first, wearing a pair of racing flats, but they are few and far between. Most of us are in the same boat and if our bodies hold us back we can still find ways to improve.
For my friend and the countless runners that impose restrictions on their performances I have one question. I believe in you, your friends and family believe in you, why don’t you believe in you?
“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. When you were younger the mind could make you dance all night, and the body was never tired…You’ve always got to make the mind take over and keep going.”
- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General and 1912 Olympian