Running Is Mental · 4 March 2013

I never used to believe that running is a mental endeavor. But I do now.

I have read and heard people say that you can only run as fast and as far as your mind will let you. That there is something powerful about the mind and what it does for human endeavor. I have always believed some of it, but have reserved judgement on whether running was mostly mental. Until Saturday.

Saturday, I went on a trail run in the woods. Previously, I had only been to the entrance of this particular park to see our son’s cross country race. I was there early on Saturday morning to deliver him to his track practice and decided that I would just run too. I looked at the map and set off before any of the kids so that I would not embarrass myself too much. After all, I figured I would only run for about half an hour while they were supposed to run an hour.

I set off at a good pace down the trail. It felt good to be running the trails.

I had the map in my head, but I still got lost. Twice. Fortunately, the first time I just needed a quick fix. I took the wrong turn and ended up at a different entrance to the park. I turned around and headed back to the trails. The second time, was a different story.

I was going around a pond and having a great time going up and down the switchback trails. I found a main trail and thought I would head back to my starting point. As I was going merrily along, I thought things looked too familiar. It took me until I was almost half way around the pond again, to figure out why. I realized what I had done, turned back, and tried to find the main trail. I took another wrong turn and had to backtrack. Then, I took still another wrong turn and backtracked again. Finally, I got to the main trail and headed back to my starting point.

When I finally got back, I looked at the clock on my pedometer and realized I had been gone for an hour. No. I had been running for an hour. Or almost anyway. I only stopped or walked a couple times and usually just for a few steps. That was when I realized running was mental.

Up until that point, the longest time I had run was about forty minutes. I thought that an hour would kill me. But I was able to do it when I was not thinking about time or distance. And even though my pedometer said I had not gone that far, I felt I had gone at a good pace.

I was grinning inside as I waited for my son and the rest of the runners from his track team to come back. I had been able to run farther and for a longer time than I ever believed I could. It had been a great week of running.

I never believed it before, but I do now. Running really is a mental endeavor.

© 2013 Michael T. Miyoshi

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