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The Mind is Primary

Running my last few races  I learned that the mind is primary not the physical.

When I bonked after 16 miles at The North Face 50K last weekend there was a physical component but I know that the governor of the whole experience was my own head. There were plenty of times when I could have run when I walked. I walked because it felt better to walk and it hurt to run.

I also notice how when things get tough it can be all too easy to just get down on allow negative self-talk to creep in. Last week I actually got angry at the course for being so ridiculously hilly and muddy! Once the downward mental slide begins it is tough to stop until it runs its course. For me that took about 2 hours and 10 miles.

Mental training is very tough and something we are not programmed to do. We avoid it because it really pushed us past our comfort zone. It mandates that you intentionally do things that are uncomfortable and outside of your normal routine. If you are only doing the type of regular physical training that your are used to doing, then you are not pushing your mental boundary.


  1. ron horton says:

    I would like to point out to you that the type of race you are doing is helping accomplish that mental training you are seeking. You gained some valuable knowledge about how your mind reacts to your body’s failure to respond in the manner you desire and it sounds like at some point you pushed past the fatigue and pain and managed to finish the race.
    I call it “fighting the demons” and I have experienced it to some degree in nearly every marathon or ultra I have participated. What I enjoy is finding newer and more positive ways to combat the mental compulsion to give into my body’s physical desire to quit. Mentally overcoming those physical urges and pushing on to the finish has been my reward, usually in endorphins, for conquering my demons.
    At the RH 50K race I met you on, I learned a valuable lesson that I already knew to some degree. I ran almost the entire race with two fellow runners and the conversation and comradery kept my demons at bay for the majority of the race! I used the same tactic two weeks later and enjoyed similar results on a more challenging course.
    I think every training run, recovery run, fun run, or race is an opportunity to learn something.

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