Stop. Just STOP. A four-letter word. Can be a word that feels great to say. After a hard training session, or crossing the finish line. STOP. Relief, I did it, completed or finished my run.
But there are other times where that same word leads to a did not finish. Or a backing out of running. Discouragement, that’s what today’s blog is all about.
Yes Indeed, Heiko is my name. Thank you for reading. Tell me what are you doing whilst reading the blog? Hopefully you are in an excellent state of mind, today we are going to need it. See I want to explain what experts agree on is a process that determines whether we go forward or sometimes give up.
Which doesn’t mean that a DNF is a no-go. Or the social media attention grabbers that talk about: never give up. Keep on hustling. LoL.
No, see there is nothing wrong with a DNF. If it happens it happens. No chip of your shoulder. Nobody else will care about it.
Especially if you stopped to avoid an injury, or you just felt exhausted and couldn’t muster the necessary energy to go on.
But let’s agree that most runners’ actually complete their races, so it is not about DNF, but rather about those runners that used to run, but then the interval went from running every day to every second every third, to twice a week.
Then twice a week meant that running , which was a pleasurable hobby, suddenly felt like a struggle. Obviously because if you just run twice per week, it will improve your fitness, but the base training that is so vital it won’t be sufficient to make you run better, or to become a better runner.
Rather it will lead to signs of stagnation and then STOP. Suddenly you look back and say I used to run, rather than I am a runner. And that is a strange line to cross. Between being a runner and suddenly having slipped into the I was – group. It’s a blurry line and some of you readers might be on that path. You might be heading towards ”I used to be a runner”, without realizing it because it is not easy to determine when you still “are a runner” and “where a runner”.
It is not easy to see those signs if you are not taking time out to analyze and think about your issue. If you are just plodding along and hey, maybe you are extremely active on social media, reading about the latest trends, and your amazon shopping basket is full of net runner’s kit. Maybe you will buy those compression socks after all. Or that cool air of sunglasses. See your brain notices you are occupying it with running, and what a bargain there is no effort involved.
You usually realize or it sinks in when you reach the STOP destination. When you forgot your Strava password, or don’t remember where you’re running.
And this process is in your head. See, I told you you will need some energy today for this episode. But it will be worth it. There are some powerful tips included here.
It doesn’t matter if you are in a race with 10 100 or 10.000 runners. You know this, it’s just you it is all happening inside your brain. And it can feel pretty lonely. If suddenly the group you were running with seems to pull away. But not because they increased the pace, you slowed down.
Or it is the third time this week you are feeling alone. And not necessarily enjoying it. I mean yes, sometimes you like the loneliness, but how. You feel like in a science fiction movie, the last runner on planet earth.
Well, the advice you find is to “go inside yourself” or “return to your center”. You know a very difficult kind of advice. Because a.) that’s just the problem being alone, by oneself, and b.) how do you get to your center anyway?
And it is a strange thing to become disheartened. Again, I am not talking about giving up, due to an injury. Or I remember I was so looking forward to the Salzburg Marathon. And I was fit, well prepared. I’m looking forward to having a good time. Well for me it was a good time. And then, as I think about the 35th km I suffered a pain I never felt before. Like a sudden shock to my system, I took a little jump onto the pavement, and right back down, at a good pace I could already see the rooftop buildings where the finish line was. And next thing, cramp. In my right calf. Now I never had a cramp in my right or left calf before. Well without making this a too long dramatic story, which wasn’t I had to stop. Dead stop. And what a weird sensation that is. Runners coming by you one two, then a big group and next thing it’s like oh my goodness. I am out of the race? Is it over? Or hang on let me walk and from a struggling walk, like those national geographic photos of the Sherpas carrying 3 x their body weight up mount Everest lol, that was my style. And after every few steps and being passed by another runner, I wanted to run again, but couldn’t. The cramp would clamp down on me and I was forced to walk. And this carried on whilst more and more runners were passing me, whilst my head was still trying to understand I was so close to the finish and my desired finishing time was gone. Beyond reach!
It felt like the longest walk. Eventually I managed a bit of a run-walk thing, especially the finish line, which seemed like it was a steep angle (it wasn’t).
How discouraging was that.
A simple few kilometers, it wasn’t like it was an Ultramarathon, or an extreme event. No, I was well prepared and well trained for this event.
And I don’t remember how long it took for those last few kilometers. But it was a struggle. To go from a strong pace to a walking pace.
You know what got me through. I remembered a lesson during my mental training. And there were 4 steps.
The first one is to accept what happened as an event. A moment in time. It’s an event that does not affect your uniqueness. You are not failing, you are not falling into another group, or failing any grade.
Next one is to stay true to your values. This might mean relying on your stubbornness or being a little selfish. Do I want to change my values? And sit inside that cozy medical tent? Pull out, take myself away from the event? (That will still be occurring right In Front of my line of sight. Absolutely not.
Listen to your own advice. Means, now is not the time to take advice from that race official who tells you to lie down or sit down. I knew if I sit or lie down now, I will never ever get up again. So, it means you need to go deeper along your personal decision making and find your own resolve.
And once you are there. Become your own best friend. That best friend who would tell you no he or she would sing it to you> Bob Marley Get up Stand up, don’t give up the fight. Because now it doesn’t matter how you interact with others, or if you have like-minded people around you. You need to rely on yourself. Difficult task whilst other runners are STILL passing you left & right.
And what would your best friend do, other than sing that song? He or she would encourage you, would know what to say to ignite that spark that will light up that motivational fire inside of you. That friend that will remind you what you set out to do in the first place.
And then of course whilst these words are going through your mind, they serve a dual purpose. This blog is about 17 minutes long. So let’s say the lesson or the tips are about 10 minutes. That while you concentrate on these points, and like I did I carried on limping, running , limping some more, running bent forward, running bent side-ways, trying everything to avoid another cramp which I was convinced would lock my calf forever. But the focused mind on my uniqueness, my values, reading to my own advice, and encouraging myself, that is what got me covering those last few kilometers to the finish line. They acknowledge that I am completing what I set out to do. OK, not in the time that I was hoping for. But the thoughts gave me guidance. That there are other options than going on the side of that medic tent. It helps to relate differently to a situation, giving you better understanding “Hey I can still do this”
Understanding. With self-awareness comes understanding. Understand what you set out to do, why you wanted it in the first place, how you can get it despite the circumstances and what you can change right now. Options. Get clear on what you have no intention of changing and work with it. And that is what gets you to cross the finish line. It resides in my uniqueness, relying on understanding what’s happening, it’s just an event not a drama story. Then comes encouragement, acknowledgement, guidance and that is perseverance. All are there within me. All there within you too.
However every now and then runners’ chose discouragement. Yes, I said I chose it. Being discouraged is a decision. And we end up taking that route because we fail to prepare ourselves for other options. See, if you explore and think about these types of mental strategies beforehand, what will happen? You are ready when calamity strikes.
You can choose something else. You can refocus and not see the medic tent as the only option. Or quitting as the best thing to do. And again sometimes we quit, yes. Sometimes we have a DNF. I know what that feels like too.
But let that DNF be due to a reason that is worthy of giving up.
Let that decision come from cleverness, and from a responsible point of view.
Have you ever felt discouraged? Sure you have. And tell me once you start thinking and mulling in that state of mind. What usually comes out of that thinking and mulling things over process?
Without knowing you I can answer that one. Usually negative thoughts. And little options, which lead to a confirmation that “it is hopeless”.
And that’s what we can avoid. It is so important if you haven’t listened to anything else I said before, or someone asked you to listen to it. And you are doing this as a favor, not because you are really interested in the topic. These are the important steps to take.
Keep a success diary. Yes I know you are not 15 anymore. Doesn’t matter. Successful people have success diaries.
Stick around positive thinkers and optimists. Especially if they irritate you. And avoid the negative mindset crowd at all costs. Why well because they have a problem for every solution, don’t they? Even when I told this story about my cramp, I have had people tell me about the possible horror scenarios. And really, I don’t want to know.
Go back to the previous lesson, and work on your run mission statement. You did do that, didn’t you? Or did you just listen to the blog and didn’t react? No, of course you wrote some sentences down, good for you.
And then a beautiful poem: Breathe darling, this is just a chapter, It’s not your whole story.
2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk in faith, not by sight.
Whow, that is such an inspirational verse. That alone is enough for me. Disappointment and discouragement is a normal part of life that everyone experiences. However, you do not have to feel discouraged in the face of setbacks. Developing a positive attitude, which takes time and reacting the way I described in the episode. So that when you face a challenge, it can make you resistant to discouragement. See disappointment as an opportunity to recharge and refocus instead of a reason to feel bad. With some hard work and self awareness, you can foster a healthy, positive mentality.
Thanks for your time. If you enjoyed the blog, give me a 5-star rating that will help others who are looking for content like this find it, and it’s a nice thing to do.
I didn’t bore you with ads for a horrible sports drink, nor did I recommend you a pair of vitamins that apparently make you run faster Thanks for reading come back next week, my name is Heiko, God bless you and remember take it easy
Your 365 Day Run Streak, one whole year of running Why who or what would you want to do that?
And if your first thought is “I couldn’t do that” then definitely you should get the book.
I want to leave you today with a powerful bible verse I mentioned in the beginning, see we were not born scared. We were born to be strong and with courage Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Thank you for your time, please do share the blog, my name is HEIKO, God bless you and TAKE IT EASY