How running is showing me, step by step, that I’m stronger physically and mentally than I thought I was

I don’t know about you but the last year has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes I’ve felt like I can cope and other times I’ve really struggled. Balancing home and work and child care in a way we’ve ever had to before has caused a lot of emotional challenges. As a family we’re very fortunate that, other than in the first lock down, we’ve been able to use our child minder. Our eldest has been home one day a week for home schooling and we’ve been completing all his other school work on the weekends. We’ve been very fortunate we have an understanding school. As we’re in Wales and both our boys are in the foundation phase they go back into school on Monday. They can’t wait which I’m really relieved about.

This weekend marks my longest run to date, 17 miles today, and by the end of the weekend I’ll have covered just over marathon distance. I should caveat this with the fact that I was supposed to be running 16 miles, which still would have been my longest run, but I misjudged the distance when I mapped it out!

Endurance running is much more about having the mental stamina to keep going than the physical. Yes, you have to be fit but when the going gets tough its the mental side of things that will keep you going and moving forward. You have to train your brain to not focus on feeling tired and to refocus on something else. To distract yourself so that you can keep going. It takes practice, but that’s why we train right?

If you’d have asked me six months ago whether I’d firstly, be able to cover 17 miles and secondly, whether I’d enjoy most of it, I’d have laughed and said I could probably do it but enjoy it, no way!

By steadily increasing my distance over the past seven weeks not only was I able to cover 17 miles fairly easily but I also really enjoyed most of the run. I think it helped that it was a new route so there was an element of excitement about not quite knowing where I was going and then there being some unexpected downhills. Did my legs ache some of the time? Yes. Did I give up? Nope. I just kept plodding on. I hiked when I felt I needed to and ran when I could.

As I was running I realised that whilst it’s going to take some serious determination to cover the 40 miles of the VOGUM in June, providing it goes ahead, I really was up for the challenge and found the belief that I could complete it.

I listened to the She Runs Cardiff Spotify playlist and the perfect song came on as I hit the first unexpected down hill. If you’re interested, the song was Going Loco down in Acapulco, not a song I’d normally listen to but it just encapsulated the joy I was feeling at just that moment. Katy Perry’s Roar came on just as finished and that song always makes me feel invincible.

I have no doubt that my legs will feel heavy tomorrow for my run but a bath with bath salts tonight and some foam rolling will help a bit. That’s the point of the back to back runs, they’re there to challenge you both physically and mentally to prepare you for race day.

4 thoughts on “How running is showing me, step by step, that I’m stronger physically and mentally than I thought I was

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