Mind Over Matter—Matters


Once a week I go to the local track to do speedwork. I have a love hate relationship with speedwork. I’m a distance runner, not a sprinter. So to me, speedwork is dreadfully painful. But you can’t be a better distance runner without regular speedwork.

I usually run first thing in the morning, but that’s been kind of difficult the last couple weeks. Milo is teething so we’ve had some rough nights. To maximize my sleep, I’ve run several afternoons instead of in the morning. But I always feel like when I run in the afternoon my work is sub-par; I run at my best in the morning.

So when it’s been my days for speedwork and Milo has been difficult, I’ve told myself I would just do the workout another day. On those days, I would head out for a usual run and reschedule the speedwork for another day when I can do it in the morning. I come up with all sorts of reasons to support my “need” to postpone the speedwork: it’s too hot, it’s too windy, I’m still tired, I need to be more hydrated, etc.

So every week Nick gets home from work, and I head out for my run. I run by the high school and start thinking about the speedwork I’m supposed to be doing. I’m not that tired, you don’t get to order up perfect weather on race day, I don’t want to dread this workout for another day or two, and what if the next few nights are even worse. Every time I end up caving and doing the workout my coach has scheduled.

Here’s the crazy thing: despite all of my reasons on why I shouldn’t do the work that day, I always complete the workout and even faster than my coach has prescribed. I think I’m entirely incapable until I’m doing the workout and then I realize I’m more than capable.

It’s the fear of failure that gets my mind reasoning me out of my responsibilities. It’s the fact that to grow and improve, you have to push yourself past your comfort zone and that’s, well, uncomfortable. But none of it is possible if you first can’t find the strength to believe that you can.

I have felt defeated for a long time. I’ve faced a lot of obstacles over the last couple years from 2 foot surgeries to my pregnancy and delivery. These obstacles have left me weaker, both physically and emotionally. I desperately want to get back to the condition I was before all of this, to be as strong and fast as the Melinda I remember. Right now the only thing standing in my way is me; the voice inside my head that says it’s impossible.

And it’s not just about running, is it? How often in life do we feel defeated in our work or relationships? We set a goal, map out a plan, and yet still fall flat? I’ve worked with a lot of clients and I’ve seen it time and again. We have a vision for the future, but we fail to believe it could ever be a reality.

This fall I want to run a sub 3:30 marathon. There once was a time this would be a cakewalk for me, but I haven’t had a sub 4:00 marathon the last 3 I’ve run. I’m ready to do the work; I’m getting out there everyday logging the miles and I’m being more disciplined in what I’m eating. This will all be in vain if I can’t discipline my mind as well. But years of self doubt don’t get erased over night.


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