I’m a huge believer in the saying that distance running is 90% mental. It’s what gets me through the training. It wasn’t always easy though.
Getting to the point where I felt comfortable pushing myself was difficult. I had no idea what was too much, and when I got tired or hot and sweaty (which happens a lot when you live in swampy Washington D.C.) I would always think about quitting. So I learned early on that the mental toughness is huge. Combat the negativity in your head and you can train for anything.
So I’m going to share with you some of my big inspirations. I love books. I love movies. I like hearing from people who have done amazing things.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
I mentioned to a friend that I had never read any Murakami and a very observant friend passed on this book to me. I devoured it last year when preparing for my first half marathon. The rhythm of Murakami’s writing is at times as rhythmic as a runner’s stride. It’s also an extremely relatable book. He talks about how he stubbornly resisted walking during his long runs and races – I was literally screaming at the book “Me too!” because for a long time I didn’t feel like I really “finished” a run if I took a walk break. The book is as much about running as it is a window into Murakami’s creative process as a writer. So even if you don’t care for running, that aspect alone is worth the read.
“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole.”
The Spirit of the Marathon
I think I watched this after I ran my first marathon last year. Josh suggested we watch it, and I am glad he did. It follows a number of folks who run the 2005 Chicago Marathon. They vary in levels from folks who have run several marathons, to a crop of newbies. Some are hoping to qualify for Boston, some are just hoping to enjoy the run along the way. Olympic Marathoner and American record holder Deena Kastor is followed too (she won the bronze in the Women’s Marathon in 2004). What I love about this documentary is you get the whole range of running experience. There are injuries. There are triumphs. There are tears. Some folks run in groups. Some folks run alone. It reminded me that runners come in all shapes and sizes, all speeds but they’re still all runners
I met Scott Jurek earlier this year at an event sponsored by my local running store. He was in town in part to promote his work with the Nature Conservancy (link) and also to promote his book Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness (link). A pretty sizeable group joined him for a short fun run on a local trail and then we assembled at the store for a short Q&A.
For those who don’t know Scott Jurek has many claims to fame in the ultramarathon world (ultramarathons are races that are over the traditional 26.2 marathon distance) and it turns out he was a very engaging speaker. He’s a vegan – so it was interesting to hear about what he eats to fuel up pre-race, during races, and after races. I was also glad to hear that after a busy racing season he enjoys taking time off from running to repair and re-evaluate. This was huge for me to hear from an accomplished athlete. It made me feel great about taking time off from running!
Who and what inspires you?