While the title of this post might conjure memories of angsty teenage years, it’s not what you think.
I am four weeks away from my next half marathon and I am slowly increasing my distance each week. On today’s plan, 10 miles. I had left it to the final day of the long (Canadian Thanksgiving) weekend so even when I saw the forecast and heard the pouring rain on the skylight, I knew I didn’t have a choice. I set my route and Mr. Awesome and the kids agreed to pick me up at the other end – I prefer having a destination to doing an “out and back,” but having someone at the other end is kind of necessary.
Lately I’ve started listening to audio books on my runs. It goes against everything I’d originally thought, because I was convinced that running with my specially timed playlist was what kept me going and on pace. Turns out that listening to audio books actually keeps me more distracted and I think less about the fatigue, pain, boredom, etc.
Today I was listening to The Magic of Thinking Big, by David Schwartz. It’s a personal development book, all about achievement, goal setting, going for the BIG goal and believing in yourself. This was particularly key today. Here is an excerpt from the specific piece I was listening to at a pivotal moment in my run:
Your mind is a “thought factory.” It’s a busy factory; producing countless thoughts in one day.
Production in your thought factory is under the charge of two foremen, one of whom we will call Mr. Triumph and the other Mr. Defeat. Mr. Triumph is in charge of manufacturing positive thoughts. He specializes in producing reasons why you can, why you’re qualified, why you will.
The other foreman, Mr. Defeat, produces negative, depreciating thoughts. He is your expert in developing reasons why you can’t, why you’re weak, why you’re inadequate. His specialty is the “why-you-will-fail” chain of thoughts.
Both Mr. Triumph and Mr. Defeat are intensely obedient. They snap to attention immediately. All you need do to signal either foreman is to give the slightest mental beck-and-call. If the signal is positive, Mr. Triumph will step forward and go to work. Likewise, a negative signal brings Mr. Defeat forward.
To see how these two foremen work for you, try this example. Tell yourself, “Today is a lousy day.” This signals Mr. Defeat into action and he manufactures some facts to prove you are right. He suggests to you that it’s too hot or it’s too cold, business will be bad today; sales will drop, other people will be on edge, you may get sick, your wife will be in a fussy mood. Mr. Defeat is tremendously efficient. In just a few moments he’s got you sold. It is a bad day. Before you know it, it is a heck of a bad day.
But tell yourself, “Today is a fine day;” and Mr. Triumph is signaled forward to act. He tells you, “This is a wonderful day. The weather is refreshing. It’s good to be alive. Today you can catch up on some of your work.” And then it is a good day.
This excerpt is important to share, for reasons I am about to explain. I was at about mile 8, soaking wet, facing yet another long hill ahead of me and a very sore right ankle, when I said to myself “This is a great day.” I then heard a familiar toot-toot and saw our little black car driving towards me and pulling over. Mr. Awesome opened the window and asked if I wanted to be done. He could see me dripping, drenched to the skin, tired and clearly not having a fantastic time. But I couldn’t understand what he meant – how could I want to be done? I wasn’t done. I had only run just over 8 miles and I had to run 10 today. I stood there for a few moments pondering – he was clearly trying to give me this option out of love and concern. He then offered another option of a pick up slightly farther but still not the full distance, as it was “just down hill from that point on.” But down hill is the easy part! I still had my motivational book playing in my ear and I looked at my wonderful husband and said “No, I want to go all the way.”
He agreed, closed the window and went off to find them a warm drink while they waited for my eventual arrival.
This was an incredible moment for me. I heard my words over and over in my head. I want to go all the way. I wanted to go with Mr. Triumph and not Mr. Defeat. I wasn’t going to stop early, no matter how nice it would have been to wrap up in a dry towel at right that very moment. I had made the commitment to run 10 miles, and I couldn’t fathom not completing it, no matter how slowly.
I walked a lot of the hills. I was slower than usual. My ankle hurt. And it was RAINING. At one point I got splashed by a passing vehicle and I barely felt it because I was already so very wet.
But I ran that 10 miles. In fact, I ran 10.87 miles. I let Mr. Triumph triumph, and despite an ankle that desperately needed ice when I got home, I felt fantastic for having done it. The old me would have welcomed Mr. Defeat with open arms, grateful for any reason to give in and accept excuses. Today was yet one more reminder of how far I have come and how much more than just a physical transformation it’s been.
I went ALL the way.