Running & Mental Toughness – Weekly Recap – 2.2.20

mental toughness

This was another busy week for me.  I was out of town all week for work, and had all day meetings.  Ugh.  Fortunately, I was still able to get in all of my training this week.  With all of the travel, and a few unplanned difficulties, this week certainly tested the limits of my mental toughness. But we’ll talk more about that in a little bit.

As difficult as it can be to stay focused on goals when I’m not at home, I’ve found a couple of resources that help make training a little more manageable.  This week, I was able to drop in to a great box in Austin using a ClassPass membership.  What I like most about ClassPass is that you can tailor the membership to really fit your habits.

I don’t use ClassPass outside of my work travel, since I have a home box that I go to regularly.  Because of this, I have the smallest plan that gives me about 6 classes a month.  If I were using ClassPass as my main means of working out, I’d definitely upgrade to a different plan with more credits.  I’m thinking about writing a full review of ClassPass, and how it’s helped me keep moving towards my goals while I’m traveling.  If that’s something you’d be interested in, let me know.

The box I dropped into this week was Roka Fitness.  It was probably one of the nicest gyms I’ve dropped into in a long time.  It’s a newer box, the equipment was really nice, and the space was great.  The gym also offers power lifting, boxing, and HIIT classes, so it’s got a lot of options for members and drop-ins.  If you happen to be in the Austin area, I’d definitely recommend checking them out.  Their IG is RK512 if you’re interested in following them.

Sunday, before I left for Austin, I decided to take my son on a little trail run.  Everything was going pretty great.  Until I saw snake on the edge of the trail.  Naturally, I jumped off, and fell down the trail, in a spectacularly coordinated way.  Turns out, the snake was actually a large toad.  The result of the toad-snake was a very skinned knee, and some pretty substantial road rash.  I feel like this is something that would only happen to me, haha.

mental toughness - endurance running
slightly scraped

The absolute best part was that I was all of 2 miles into a 6 mile out and back.  Which meant I could either turned around and run a total four miles, or I could just finish my run completely and do the full six.  I decided to suck it up, and finish my run with my bloody knee and bruised ego.  My son was fairly concerned, but I’m glad he was able to see me push through temporary pain and discomfort. 

The exciting experience with the toad-snake got me thinking about how running has made me a whole lot tougher and gritty-er.  In fact, mental toughness has been one of my favorite results from my running career.  So, today I want to share how running  has increased my mental toughness and made me a stronger person.

Running & Mental Toughness

Running Has Shown Me Discomfort Is Temporary
I cannot think of a single race or hard training run where I have not experienced some serious discomfort.  From muscle cramps to chaffing to swollen feet and blisters, running for long distances is anything but comfortable.  Exciting.  Challenging.  But not comfortable.  And despite the fact that the world may say that millennials worship at the feet of comfort, I think it’s really important to learn to tolerate discomfort.

And one of the best ways I’ve learned to tolerate discomfort (and improve mental toughness) is by recognizing that discomfort is a just a damn feeling.  And all feelings pass.  It’s so easy to hit a rough spot in a long run and start to panic, thinking “holy crap, I feel like my left foot is going to fall off, and I’ve got three more miles?!  How?  Three more miles is 100% going to kill me.”

But given enough time, everything will pass.  Nausea will pass.  Muscle soreness will pass.  Mental frustration will pass.  And if you hit the end of your run, and you’re still feeling like crap, well now you’re done and you’ll probably feel better soon.  Good job.  I wrote about how every runner has crappy runs, and what they mean.  If you are able to accept that at some point you will have a crappy run, and that the discomfort will pass, you can basically run forever.

mental toughness - endurance running

And just like physical is temporary and fleeting, so is mental discomfort.  This has been one of the greatest lessons that running has taught me.  Discomfort doesn’t last forever.  Panic doesn’t last forever.  Depression doesn’t last forever.  I don’t have to do anything to make my feelings change (though I’ve learned a few coping skills that do help).  If I just give myself enough time and grace, any uncomfortable feeling will eventually fade and dissipate.  Which is an incredibly powerful realization for someone whose struggled with mental health.

Running Has Shown Me Discomfort Doesn’t Have to Stop Me
Because discomfort does not last indefinitely, it does not have to stop me.  I didn’t get to fully experience coming out of a “low” point in a run until I started training for an ultra-marathon.  And honestly, the first time I felt myself catch my second wind, I was kind of amazed.  In marathon training, the discomfort has a predictable pattern.  The first mile sucks (it’s the liar mile), the middle miles usually feel fairly good, and the last 2-3 miles feel like you’ve been run over by a riding lawn mower.

But in ultra-training, I had the opportunity to learn to problem-solve during my run.  If I started feeling nauseous, I took a pepto-tab.  If I felt a blister coming on, I reapplied some Squirrels Nut Butter.  If I started to feel fatigued, I took an extra gel.  Once I started problem-solving, I found that I was able to run a whole lot further than I ever knew was physically possible.

In the last few years, I’ve started applying this framework to other areas of my life.  When I wanted to go back to school to get my MBA (in a particularly intense fit of crazy), I knew that the discomfort of the long nights and mental fatigue wouldn’t last.  So I prioritized as much as possible, and just kept going until I graduated.  When I find myself with increasingly less patience with my son, I find a way to take care of myself, and accept that this time and these feelings aren’t going to last.

Related Post: My B+ Mom Week

Running Has Shown Me Strength Is on the Other Side of Discomfort
Finally, running has shown me what is on the other side of discomfort.  And almost everything I want is on the other damn side.  A promotion?  It’s on the other side of long nights and lots of meetings (the worst).  My first rental property?  It was on the other side of a lot of research, frustration, deals falling through, and feeling overwhelmed.

A Boston Qualifying marathon time?  Well, I’m going to assume that sucker is on the other side of a lot of hard training.  And I’m in the thick of that right now.   But I know, without a doubt, that the discomfort of tempo runs, a perpetually growling stomach, and 5am wake up calls is temporary (maybe not the stomach part).  If I can just stick it out and accept the fact that training is going to be hard and exhausting and sometimes frustrating, I will eventually get to what I want.

Everything that is worth going after is on the other side of some sort of discomfort.  Discomfort that will pass.  Discomfort that can be problem-solved and managed.  So, my only job is to keep focusing on the things I want on the other side of that pain, trust in the process, be willing to learn new skills, and have faith that those things will make their way to me.  As long as I don’t let go of this mental toughness I’ve spent years working on.

This Weeks Workouts

Total Miles: 49.5
Hansons Marathon Method, Week 10
How the Runs Felt
This week’s runs did not feel all that great.  I think I’m hitting that point in training where the recovery weeks feel hard, and the hard weeks feel great.  At least it’s not like motherhood, and I probably have some idea of what to expect.  I had my last track workout this week, and will be transitioning over to the strength workouts next week.  If you’d like to know more about the training plan I’m following, and the method behind the (complete) madness, check out my Hansons Marathon Method Review post.

mental toughness - endurance running
Before the attack of the toad-snake

My running week started out with toad-snake incident. On Monday, track workout was done on a treadmill this week, due to my work schedule and travel.  Not my favorite way to get in a track workout, but oh well.  I had planned on running my tempo run on Wednesday, because I had a work happy hour that evening and didn’t want to try to squeeze in a lifting workout later in the day.  After about 1.5 miles at my goal pace, I knew I just wasn’t feeling like I had enough energy.  I don’t think I did a great job eating enough the day before.

Related Post: How To Eat Healthy While Traveling

I fought for a few minutes, and then just decided to swap out my tempo run for my Friday 10-miler and call it a day.  I slowed way down and finished the 10 miles, and went to work.  Thankfully, Thursday was an easy run.  I met a girlfriend down at Town Lake after work.  A nice, easy run outside is just what I needed.

mental toughness - easy runs
Easy run at Town Lake

I made extra sure to eat enough carbs and snacks on Thursday.  Friday I was able to execute my tempo run successfully on the treadmill before work.  It felt like sweet vengence on Wednesday’s failed run if I’m completely honest.

Another curveball was lobbed in my direction on Saturday right before my long run.  My husband had a fairly significant back injury over the summer, and was in a small fender bender that seems to have reinjured the herniated disc to some degree recently.  When I woke up Saturday morning, he had some pretty concerning symptoms, so we went to the ER.  I had a full Saturday planned, with my early long and then a baby shower for my cousins wife in New Braunfels. 

Once we were on our way to the hospital, I knew my Saturday was going to be very different than initially planned.  Instead of my outdoor run, I hit the treadmill around noon so I wasn’t out of reach if the boys needed me for something.  Marathon training as a full-time working mom is never boring!  10 miles on a treadmill is no easy feat, but I guess my Boston Qualifier is on the other side of this crap.  Here’s hoping.

What I’ve Been Listening To
Since most of my runs this week have been on the treadmill, I haven’t been listening to quite as many podcasts as a regular week.  I did catch a few episodes of Bigger Pockets this week during my driving, and it’s definitely got me excited for our next investment.  My husband and I are hoping to buy another property sometime between April and August this year, so cross your fingers for me.

I have been watching quite a few teen soap operas on Netflix on the treadmill lately.  I don’t know why I get sucked into these RIDICULOUS shows, but I 1000% do.

How the WODs felt
I had a pretty funny de ja vu episode this week.  When I dropped into Roka on Monday, I felt like the WOD looked really familiar.  Turns out the box also uses CompTrain for their programming, but schedules a week behind to make some adjustments for their clients.  So Monday and Thursday were repeat WODs for me.  Not super ideal for training purposes, but I will say my times improved on both WODs, so that was kinda cool.

mental toughness - crossfit
Working out at Roka

Friday’s WOD felt like it would never freaking end.  The reps were small, but hot damn they just kept on coming.  I finished the set of 3 rounds of Nate, and walked away only mildly concussed from the hand stand push-ups.

What Went Well
I’ve kept up my core work and stretching, which I think has been really helping.  My nutrition was better this week overall, even though I know I didn’t eat quite enough on my rest day.  Also, I was fairly flexible with my training this week, and still managed to get everything in.  I went to a happy hour, which meant I had to shift my schedule, Wednesday’s tempo became Friday’s tempo, and my long run was completely on a treadmill.  This week was definitely an exercise in flexibility.

What Went Shitty
It was a little hard not to feel like the universe was against me this week.  I know it’s not true, but there was a whole lot of problem-solving that had to happen to keep my training on track.  I felt like a little frantic with all of the meetings and work travel.  I’ve been getting in a little more stretching, but I can still tell I need to do a better job of prioritizing it over the next couple of weeks.

Plans to Improve Next Week  
Next week I plan to spend a full 25 minutes (an ETERNITY to me) stretching on Sunday, since it’s the day I have the most open time.  I also plan on doing a little bit of food prep this weekend, because I think it was really helpful for me this week to have some good whole-food options when I wanted to snack.

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