Marathoner What Ifs

by Breanna Staples about a year ago in advice

Mental Shifts to Have More Fun Training

Marathoner What Ifs
30 Secs Running the World Record Marathon Pace

Marathoning can produce the ultimate highs, but is also cautioned to some of the darks lows.

Running is so much more than moving one foot in front of the other. It’s strategic, willful, emotional, and mental. If one area is off, it leaves room for so many things can go wrong. Twenty-six miles is a long time! It’s easy to run through a list of negative what ifs as you prep for a marathon. What if...

I can’t sustain my pace?

I have to pee?

I have to number two?

I don’t have enough fuel?

I fall?

I walk?

I go too fast in the beginning?

The list is endless, and it is so easy to get buried in.

As I trained for the Chicago Marathon last fall, I was on a long run and had a waterfall of negative what ifs start to flow into my mind. In this moment, I remembered all the bad things that happened in previous races and played the reels in my mind. As I was doing this, I stopped those thoughts and redirected my thinking. For this race... what if everything went right?!

This doesn’t mean you will have the perfect race every time, but it also means that if unexpected things happen, most likely, during the race, it is out of your control, so think of EVERYTHING THAT WENT RIGHT.

This tiny moment shifted my thinking for the rest of training. It became more enjoyable, less stressful, and easier. Emotional and mental baggage is heavier than you think, so getting rid of it is like a weight lifted. I was to imagine a different list of what ifs...

What if I qualify for Boston?

What if I run a 3:15 marathon?

What if I feel awesome and can run faster?!

What if I run (don’t walk at all) the whole race?!

What if run a PR?!

What if I see all my family throughout the course?!

What if I have awesome race photos?!

This is wear the feelings of fear and self doubt transform into confidence and enjoyment.

AND THEN something amazing happens to the negative set of what ifs! Instead of answers that leave you feeling terrified, imagine ones that leave you feeling ready to take on the world. What if....

I can’t sustain my pace? Slow down, enjoy the run.

I have to pee? Stop and go!

I have to number two? Definitely stop and go!

I don’t have enough fuel? Make sure to have some extra with family cheering you on.

I fall? Get up and keep going!

I walk? Be where you are. You cross the finish line either way!

It’s incredible to think that such a small moment on a normal long run, with a shift in how I reacted to doubts, allowed me to take control of my running back.

I hope that my story helps you take back your running, too. When it’s fun, the runner’s high is irreplaceable and can carry you to fantastic adventures. Ride the wave far and fast. Remember, a shift of a small moment can change a lot.

Breanna Staples
Breanna Staples
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