Mind over matter…
It’s easy enough to say, easy enough to believe, hard to put into practice.
The mind is a powerful thing; it can fool someone who is prepared into thinking they are not. I found this out the hard way on Oct. 7, 2012.
I had trained for six months to run the Long Beach International Half Marathon. I was ready, I was running 10- and 11-mile runs every weekend, plus shorter runs during the week with ease. Oct. 7, my mind won.
I had anxiety about the race. I kept telling myself, “This is just a weekend run,” but my mind won; it took over my body. I had the worst 13.1-mile run ever! I let my mind make the race a bad experience; I was not even able to celebrate the accomplishment I had achieved. I beat myself up for the race, and for letting my mind take the joy out of what I love.
I see this with my kids. It starts early. My oldest daughter, Kallan, has “beat the clock” sight word challenges in her weekly homework packets. Even though she knows all the words before her, she panics when I start the timer. She stumbles over the words, will stare at ones she knows, slumps her shoulders and refuses to go on. I feel for her. That darn mind, that little voice that doubts our ability. It only grows louder as we get older.
Everything is hard in the beginning. We know this as adults, but we still let our minds beat us up when we don’t succeed the first time. Yet we expect our children to understand when we tell them that you must try something several times before you get it right.
Remember learning how to ride a bike for the first time? That time you wanted to just throw your bike down, cry, and give up? That time you crashed and burned and thought, “I’m never going to get this!”
So how do you find that balance? How do we convince our minds that our bodies are prepared? With the proper training, time, commitment, and dedication, that we CAN do anything we want?
Our bodies are so much more capable than we believe. You must train the mind alongside the body. You must train the mind to stop doubting itself, and the vessel that carries it.
On Feb. 4, I ran the Huntington Beach Half Marathon. I trained, and I was ready mentally this time, but at mile 10, my knees said, “No way.” I finished the race with a diagnosis of “runner’s knee” and a prescription of physical therapy and 6-8 weeks of no running. Every runner’s nightmare is an injury that results in “no running.”
You get up, brush off your knees, and you try again!
On May 5, I will do just that: Brush off my knees and run again. I will run for my children who think I win every race and whom I always say, “YES YOU CAN!” I will run for my husband, who supports my love for this sport. I will run for my sister, who runs with me. I will run because my mind once told me I couldn’t. I will run to prove it wrong.
Michelle Walsh is a Menifee resident, a wife and mother of three young girls. She is a former teacher who enjoys running, exercise, sewing, gardening and socializing. Each week, she shares her experiences as a Menifee mom. Michelle welcomes your comments here.