Focusing on the negative. (Expert level)

The first kilometer of the running route from my house starts on a very semi-steep uphill. Because of this, I usually use the first kilometer to ‘warm up’ and walk. But my running has been getting stronger and one afternoon, I found myself managing to run the entire kilometer without stopping. I was thrilled! When I reached the top at the swimming school, my heart felt like it would jump out of my chest, more from happiness than exertion. I could not stop smiling. My inner voice was saying, “Well done Bron!” Best . Feeling. Ever!

Two minutes later, another runner caught up to me and we started making conversation. We exchanged pleasant neighborhood chatter and discussed some of our road races. A few minutes had passed and I was enjoying running with her when out of the blue, she said, “Well, nice to have met you. Enjoy the rest of your run, I need to get going and run a little faster. I need to get home before the sun sets.” And off she ran…

That’s when all the negative thoughts flooded my head:

Before the sun sets? What the…? Yes, because I’m so slow, right? No one wants to run with you Bron. No one! You’re too slow!

When she was out of sight, I slowed down (even more) and was still grumbling to myself when I suddenly thought back to how my run had started. I had managed to run up to the swimming school without walking. That was a great moment and it was brilliant! So then how the hell did I manage to allow my run to dip into such a negative mood. Why did it become all about my speed? How did I go so quickly from celebrating reaching a goal to focus on one of my biggest running insecurities?

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Lesson learnt: It’s an area I need to work on. Breaking myself down happens so quickly and so easily. It’s destructive. I need to focus on my achievements and stop obsessing on the negative. I’m proud of myself. I ran the first kilometer from home all the way up the hill, to the swimming school, for the first time, without walking. Yeah! That’s what I want to take out of that run. Because that’s what counts!

(Image from Google)

When you finally make a decision, everything else falls into place

My parents have a rock in their garden with the following quote carved into it, “To conquer fear, you need to make a decision.”

I’m not sure why this quote popped in to my head on Saturday, but it did. You see, on Saturday I made the decision to pull out of running the Two Oceans half marathon in April.

It’s been a very difficult and tough decision to make. Trust me, I’m heart-broken! But I’ve had time to think long and hard and decide what’s best for me. 

Two Oceans blogger, Dr Ross Tucker pointed out, Why is sometimes more powerful than how.” So I sat down and wrote out my goals and answered some tough questions I realised was long overdue. It turns out, this is what I know: I do not have a problem running 21.1kms. The distance does not put me off and I do not struggle with it either. It’s the pace where my biggest challenge lies. Due to the fact that I run so slowly, the extra stress of making a 3 hour cut-off hangs over my head causing me incredible stress making it a very unpleasant run.  

The stress comes down to the speed of my running. If I can correct this and run faster, I would not stress as much and enjoy the run more.

The training that I started with my coach in January aims to do just that – get me running faster.

Unfortunately, the training schedule I am following does not include Two Oceans or any other half marathons coming up. In fact, I have already pulled a quad muscle by running Johnson Crane too hard and trying to slip back into my training schedule a day later without resting.

In chatting to my coach, he reminded me that my goal for 2012 is speed, not Two Oceans and unfortunately this year, I can only choose one.

I’ve chosen speed.

My hope is that if I can work on running faster, and start making those cut-off times by a good half hour or so, I will in fact not stress as much and enjoy my runs. That is the end goal.

Two Oceans will be there next year. And the next…

Since having made the decision, I am at peace and have a clearer view of my running goals ahead of me. But I am sad. Very sad. Some of my running friends have tried their very best to convince me otherwise and to run the race “for fun.” But it’s not fun when I’m running my guts out and still see a man at the finish line holding a cut-off gun.

I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that I was too afraid to make the decision. But the decision has to be what’s right for me, for my body, not anyone else. I kept worrying about what everyone would think. Would they all see it as quitting? 

To be honest, I’m tired (mentally and physically) of scraping through and just making it. I don’t want to run at 8mins/km anymore. I want to achieve a half marathon time of 2h40. Or 2h30. Even 2h20! I want to run faster!

That’s my goal!