25 Days to Race Day
Since I started blogging, one of my favourite posts to write was 57 thoughts I have whilst running. (If you haven’t read it, please go check it out, I laughed while writing it so hopefully you might laugh reading it!). Because I enjoyed writing it so much, I thought I’d do a similar post and talk about the sort of mental stages I go through on my long runs. When you’re out running for over 2 hours, you have a lot of time to think, and I don’t know about anyone else, but I go through a lot of different moods and thought processes. Please don’t think I’m a total weirdo after this, I challenge anyone to run by themselves for 2 hours and not think about some really weird things!
Stage 1: Anticipation
This stage starts before you even get out the door and lasts for the first couple of miles. I really have to psyche myself up for a long run, not only because I know it’s going to be physically very difficult but also because you have to mentally prepare yourself to at least two hours of being by yourself with no way of keeping yourself occupied except with your own thoughts. I always say that I get bored easily, and this is so true on a long run because there’s only so much you can do to keep yourself from getting bored. So, for me the first couple of miles are spent worrying about how far I have to run, and how bored I’m going to be an an hour or so.
Stage 2: Acceptance
After about 20 minutes of worrying about the run, I finally get settled into a rhythm and realise that actually running isn’t that bad. I mean, sure I’ve got loads of distance left to run, but the fresh air and exercise are helping to clear my head and stop worrying about the stressful stuff in my life like paying rent and writing essays. This is also when I just kind of enjoy the scenery around me, especially as the weather is getting better.
Stage 3: Trying to be productive
Once I’ve run for a couple of miles not really thinking about anything, I usually decide that I should try to go over some ideas for my dissertation or my essays in my head. Obviously I can’t properly plan anything as I don’t have my books and can’t actually write anything, but I do find that whilst I’m running is a good time to bounce some ideas round my head and think about the sort of things I could talk about in my essay. Sometimes I even get an epiphany and realise that I’ve thought of a really good point that I MUST remember to write down when I’m back. (I’m not going to lie, this is usually the furthest thing from my mind when I finish my run, I dont usually remember to write it down for a good couple of hours afterwards.)
Stage 4: Daydreaming
The reason Stage 3 is ‘trying to be productive’ is because it usually only lasts for about 15/20 minutes before my mind starts to wander, and once it starts there is no going back. My mind goes through the strangest thoughts in this stage, sometimes triggered by something that I’ve run past but sometimes just plucked from nowhere. Once I got really sad because I realised that dogs understand humans but I’ll never be able to understand dog language (I warned you that boredom makes me think strange things.) Sometimes I just think about a TV show I’ve been watching like Pretty Little Liars and I start to get stressed because I can’t work out what’s going on and who A is. It can also get really deep and I start thinking about the fact that our planet is literally floating in space and it makes me feel really weird like I need to like hold on to the ground or something!
Stage 5: Total Boredom
After a while even my brain can’t think of any more interesting (read – weird) things to think about, and I get really bored. This is usually about 4 miles from the end of the run, where I start to struggle a bit physically as well as mentally. This is the time when I have to start concentrating more on my body to make sure I’m breathing properly, and I’m not tensing my arms or shoulders too much as I get tired.
Stage 6: Exhaustion
This is the last stage that occurs while I’m actually running, and no matter how far I run, the last mile is always really really tough. I’m literally watching my Garmin waiting for the little beep that tells me I’ve finished the last mile and can finally stop. This stage also usually involves me running round in circles for half a mile because I’ve misjudged the distance and arrived home with half a mile still to go. This is torture as I can literally see my flat and I’m just waiting for the run to be over.
Stage 7: Tired Happiness
After I’ve finished a long run, I’m obviously really tired and for a couple of minutes I think to myself ‘why the hell am I doing this’. However, once I’ve got my breath back and got something to eat and drink to replenish my energy, I feel so good about myself. It’s such a good feeling when you know you’ve done something really hard, and you’re really proud of yourself for managing to do it. I’m not going to say that it makes all the hard work worthwhile because at the moment I still have the anticipation of the marathon itself to make me nervous, but it definitely helps!
Love and kisses