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Years ago, I ran the Las Vegas Half Marathon, just shy of 2 hours and 10 minutes. I have run other half marathons in the past with better timing, but I was especially under-trained and over-injured for this race, so my expectations weren’t high. I was assuming a likely time of around 2:20 or greater. But the race ended up going much better than expected, and aside from being proud of my accomplishment overall, I have a few nuggets of wisdom to pass on from the ah-ha moments I experienced during and after the race. Enjoy.
Focusing on the negative will weaken you.
At some point around mile 9, I believed I was going to have a bad race based on the throbbing pain in my legs. I was sore and I was slowing down. At that point, the BFF joined me for a half mile until I broke away to hit the water station. When I looked up, she was so far ahead I couldn’t see her, so I rushed to catch up – for 3 miles. The key here was the distraction of my pain in favor of focusing on catching up with Dee (who I never ended up finding). Before I knew it, I had increased my pace considerably, and I was now in the last mile of the race.
To build quick and dirty confidence – set baby goals, and crush them.
In the last mile of the race, I had given up on finding Dee and focused on keeping a good pace to the finish line. I found two girls dressed in green that were clearly faster than me and I immediately focused on being in front of them. It hurt, but suddenly I was running full tilt right past the girly-greens and soon they were eating my dust. From there I started picking out and crushing runners that were ahead of me, one by one. With each crush, I felt more and more empowered – and faster.
What you believe, is.
I must have run past people that were 10x faster and stronger runners than me, but because I had it in my mind that they needed to see nothing more than the back of my head, that’s exactly what happened. In that last mile of the race, my brain was so consumed with competitive focus and people-crushing that there was no room for thinking that anyone had me beat. If I could only maintain this laser-like focus in the rest of my world, I’d be completely invincible at everything.
But the best part of the whole experience occurred once I headed back to the hotel for a little post-race snooze. As I lay in bed staring at the ceiling and reflecting on my experience, I basked in the feeling of knowing that I could accomplish anything I set my mind too. Clearly, the endorphins had lasted long after my recovery shower and I was still lingering in that last mile mindset of sheer invincibility. I thought about my career, my dreams, and my goals, while Cruella-the-nay-sayer was nowhere in sight. I had left her at mile 8 with my sore legs. The experience of daydreaming without self-attacking thoughts was sheer heavenly bliss. I became so aware in that moment of the child-like joy that can be derived from actual thinking, without the exhaustion of negative influencing thoughts, which tend to take away the fun of being in your head.
I took one more glance at the clock before drifting off into a light slumber. I had been reveling in my post-race bliss for about 37 minutes before I fell asleep. But when I woke up, life was back to normal, and Cruella had caught up to me from the water station at mile 9.
Next time, I’ll just have to run further.
Want to dig deeper into how beliefs shape reality? Listen up!
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, healthy recipes, home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.