Mental Fortitude, My New PR
Issue 32: When I didn’t hit my time, at least I had my mental strength.
I’m back to writing The Final Rep. I got a new 26.2 medal on my wall. Britney is finally free. Do you feel those positive year-end vibes streaming through? Because I sure do.
There’s such a weight that lifts off the shoulders post-marathon that I feel like a newly free woman.
For the weeks leading up to the New York City race, I kept thinking, ‘Oh I’ll get that done after the marathon.’ Well, here we are at the after point… and I’m still procrastinating HA. No, but really, I actually do feel like I have some time to not only write more and cross off to-dos I’ve been putting on the back burner but also just to hang out and watch all the holiday movies Netflix and Amazon Prime have to offer.
But first, I want to take a look back on the NYCM that brought in my third marathon medal. I feel like I picked up so many lessons on my way to the finish line.
I’ll be honest, the race didn’t go as I planned. I felt so nervous leading up to the starting line—and on the starting line—that I think I both over-stressed myself and psyched myself out. This was the first 26.2 that I had a time goal in mind and the first long-distance race in which I didn’t wear Asics Nimbus (which gave me more nervous vibes than it should have). My loose time goal was to break four hours and I was pretty sure I couldn’t do it but wanted to give it my best shot. I did train with that goal in mind, clocking interval speeds needed to hit the required 9:09 average pace that gets you to the finish in under four hours and I added tempo runs to the end of my long runs to help me practice the pace on tired legs—definitely the hardest part of my training.
However, I felt nauseous from the time I got to Staten Island where the race through the boroughs begins. It was a feeling I often get when I’m super stressed (or sad) about something—it’s difficult to get food down and my stomach just feels uneasy. That feeling didn’t subside as I ran but rather got worse. And when my legs started seriously fatiguing around mile 10ish, I began to feel even more physically—and TBH, emotionally—fragile. Like if someone were to say something sweet or mean or accidentally nudge me on the course, I just might shatter.
I kept trekking though, forcing down my gummies and gels until I just couldn’t anymore. And by mile 15, I stopped taking in fuel, just having a sip or two of water at each station. By mile 20, I felt like I was going into survival mode, taking walks as I needed them to just keep myself moving.
The thing that surprised me most, in addition to how quickly the miles continued to fly by even when I slowed way down (with the exception of mile 22 to 23—that was just a long one), was how I never felt down or bad about the fact that I wasn’t going to hit my goal or that I needed to walk. Sure, I felt a little disappointed, but I was running the streets of New York City, checking off iconic milestones with people screaming and cheering, on the 50th anniversary of the race, and I was still doing it; still clocking the marathon distance, no matter what time the clock read.
I know I’ve mentioned how running has this ability to bring gratitude to the forefront of my mind, and marathons just amplify that feeling of thankfulness tenfold. It’s easy to see how lucky we are to be runners, to be moving our bodies when the city around you is cheering you on. It’s also easy to feel thankful for making it through each mile when you’re not actually sure you’ll make it to the final one.
I couldn’t stop smiling on the course because of all the positive vibes out there, and because of all the work I already put in. They say race day is just a celebration of your training, and that’s how I felt that day, even if it didn’t exactly pay off as planned.
So, despite not hitting my time goal (something runners probably focus on a little too much anyway, amirite?), I did hit a new goal: staying positive and continuing to work, even when the work got really tough.
One of my biggest fears of running a marathon has always been that I’d feel miserable for more than four straight hours. But I basically conquered that fear—when my body felt low, my mentality never got there.
It’s that headspace that makes me feel even stronger than a quicker finish might have—and it’s something to take with me through any hardship.
A few other people’s words about wellness I’ve read (and loved) recently:
Another lesson I learned from NYC: Comparing yourself (or your race times) to others on social media is truly the worst idea—always, but especially if you didn’t hit your time. We all have our own journeys and it’s so hard to remember that when looking at other people’s speedy splits. I say this, but now I’m also going to point you to a bunch of Runner’s World stories I followed closely, about people’s fast speeds and finish times LOL. Because it’s also fun to see celebrities who finished the race and how long it took them. Plus, reading all about Shalene Flanagan finishing six marathons in six weeks (all under 2:46) is so inspiring, along with Molly Seidel breaking the American course record. A lot of great happened in NYC that day.
“The Wave of Body Positivity is Finally Coming to Surfing” on Outside is an interesting, uplifting read all about the women at the forefront of bringing more size inclusivity to the sport of surfing. The women talk about the need for more representation in media, as well as expanded sizing in surf gear, and more.
There’s no denying the power of exercise for mental health, but a story on Shape, titled “The Unbreakable Connection Between Black Women, Dance, and Mental Health,” goes so much deeper on that payoff. The writer, Nyamekye Smith discusses the history of Black women and dance, and how they’ve used this form of movement to communicate, as creative expression, and as a way to heal.
The latest updates on the fitness industry:
In Peloton news, they announced a new strength training system, called Peloton Guide that will launch in 2022. It’s basically a smart camera that tracks your movements as you follow the instructor and offers suggestions on what workouts to do next, based on the muscle groups you worked. It sounds quite similar to what Tempo just launched, the Tempo Move, for a more budget-friendly alternative to their stand-alone device. This less expensive option still gives feedback on form, counts your reps, and suggests weights.
Similarly, Mirror recently announced the launch of their smart weights (including dumbbells and ankle weights) to help check your form and count reps. They’ll become available to purchase next week.
Fashion is getting in the bike art biz, as Stella McCartney just teamed up with Cannondale to release some pretty rad new bikes. Read more about it on Bicycling.com.
Here’s one form cue that always resonates with clients…
These words tend to work for individuals I train as an ah-ha moment for feeling stronger in a move or activating the right muscles. In plank up-downs—when you alternate from a forearm plank to a straight arm plank (I’ve heard some trainers also call it a plank walk or G.I. Janes)—think about it as a full-body move. It’s easy to leave your hips behind/piked up as you lower from the high plank to the forearm plank. To avoid that, tuck the pelvis slightly forward toward the floor, press through the heels, and squeeze your butt. You should feel it in the core and shoulders, of course, but also the glutes and quads.
One move to add to your exercise routine…
You’ve probably done a squat to press, but if you want to take that up a notch—adding a balance and core challenge—it’s time to try a reverse lunge to press. Start standing with one dumbbell or kettlebell racked at your right shoulder. Step back with your right foot into a lunge, both knees bending 90 degrees. As you drive through your front foot to stand back up, press the weight straight up overhead, bicep by ear. Lower the weight back to shoulder height and repeat.
For a full workout, try…
If you love jumping rope but don’t know exactly what to do with said rope, download the CrossRope app. (It’s free, with the option to upgrade to premium for $80/year.) The brand mixes intervals using the jump rope with bodyweight exercises, complete with timers and voice cues that call out each exercise. So, you can just press play and follow the leader.
The gear I’m loving to get me out the door…
It’s officially cold season, so coats are necessary—especially if you’re running outdoors. I recently got the Nike Therma-FIT Jacket and I love it. It looks sleek so you can wear it anywhere, but will definitely provide the warmth you need on chilly runs. I also love the shorter cut, so it doesn’t get in the way when you’re picking up your stride. I have the black, but loving the red color, too.
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