Tualatin: Mon-Thur, 7 AM - 5 PM
19260 SW 65th Ave, Suite 285
Tualatin OR 97062
Telephone: 503 927 1012
RUNNING INJURIES • SPECIALIZED ASSESSMENTS • SPORTS MEDICINE
Beaverton, Tualatin Medical Clinics
Copyright, © 2013-2015. Run2bwell & Hans Kroese. All rights reserved.
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
“Quitting is not an option”
“Life starts outside of my comfort zone.”
“The pain you feel is not real.”
“Quitting is forever.”
“Step left, step right until the finish line.”
“If you just keep moving you will finish”
Your Running Mantra
Indian yogis have been known to repeat a sacred word or phrase to aid in concentration when meditating. You too can use such a tool to unleash psychological power of mind over matter when enduring discomfort while running.
How does an inspiring phrase work? During the “Where’s Waldo 100 Endurance Run” in the Central Oregon Cascade mountains, Byron Powell’s ultra-marathon book titled “Relentless Forward Progress” kept popping up in my mind. I repeated it numerous times to keep me focused on my objective to “continue no matter what”. It gave me a mental edge and ensured continuation for over 17 hours of running until I stepped over the finish line. Mantras have a powerful meaning or impetus for a desired outcome.
Mantras also teach us fortitude based on past experiences of failure. I once quit half-way through a race because there was too much mud on the trail. The last 4 miles of each 15 mile loop had me running ankle deep in the mud. The rest of the course around Hagg Lake was also bad enough for continuous slipping and sliding. Full of regret of having given up I vowed to come back. I was determined that the mud would no longer hold me back in spite of there being more of it in subsequent races. I turned the initial hardship and failure into strengths by completing the race two years in a row.
Mental toughness, I realized, is trainable, but you need adverse conditions. Embrace the discomfort, I tell my kids, whether it is too much homework or an emotional situation at school. The power of a mantra is personal. One of my clients offers this advice. She writes, "When I'm fighting a mental struggle out on a run I either think of the women in Congo (one of whom ran a mile with only one leg--if she can do that I can certainly finish), or I think of a local runner who has Multiple Sclerosis and can't do more than walk right now, and I think if she can do that I can finish, or I think of someone I know who has struggles & I offer up my pain in prayer to them."
Choosing your own method to remain empowered during a long and strenuous run can always become eclipsed by your vulnerability caused by fatigue, hunger, pain, cramping, GI issues or jammed toe nails. At a recent run called the 24 hour Hamster Endurance Run I had been set up to deal with a set of circumstances I was not prepared to handle. I was faced with the realization that in spite of all sorts of empowering utterances and mental preparation there would be a point when my body says it has reached its limit. In the book “The Lore of Running” Tim Noakes M.D. discusses the Central Governor Theory. During my lectures I sometimes clarify and say NO it is not my wife I am talking about.
Dr. Noakes describes a point when the brain will shut down the body and cause it to stop exercising when a critical limit is reached in say energy stores. Just as the brain needs oxygen it also needs fuel in the form of carbohydrates. Otherwise we would risk irreversible damage to ourselves if we continued to exercise. During the Hamster run I developed rather severe pain and spasm three hours into the race. Each step jolted my right hip. I could no longer lift my leg up nor extend my leg back. Walking was worse than running. I was wearing new shoes which caused an old injury to be reawakened.
I had worn light weight minimalist shoes until the day of the race. The new shoes were almost twice the weight as my old ones. Pain and weakness in my hip were forcing me to give up on the event. No mantra was going to rescue me. Eventually, though, the problem eased up when I resorted to using my old light weight worn out shoes. They may have been light but were also the cause of heel, achilles, and knee pain in the past, especially during longer distances. By replacing the heavier shoes for the old lighter weight ones I substituted one pain for three others.
Solving the hip problem had at least allowed me to continue running. Though also very painful, these other three issues were not going to cause me to quit. At least that is what I thought until mile 65. I was 35 miles short of my goal of running a 100 miles. I had reached a point where in spite of reciting my mantra I was still not going to keep moving forward. What surreptitiously happened was that my mind had been painting images of what it would be like to stop, like going to bed early (it was only 2 AM). There were no longer any reasons for me to keep going. The scenarios of success I played out in my mind prior to the race of completing 24 hours of continuous running were wiped out. Following the event, however, I felt at least better prepared for the next month’s Mountain Lake 100. And I did get to lie down in my van around 3 AM.
When it comes to setting goals and completing an event, whether it is a three mile run or a 100 mile ultra-marathon, make sure you train mental toughness and imagine scenarios of hardship which could be obstacles to your success. By having a mantra you will tap into inner strengths you did not know you had which could motivate you to succeed.