It happened about 12 and a half miles into my long run this weekend. I was running with arguably the world's kindest and most selfless human being Carlee Mcdot. Carlee, 18 miles into her long run, had just thanked a police officer for being out on the course and he told us, "Have fun!". I started to laugh like an a-hole and as he quickly tried to explain what he meant as we ran away, I yelled back that I was struggling but he was right, I should be having fun.
The problem wasn't that I wasn't having fun. The problem was that I've been suffering from a really bad attitude ever since I started training for this second BQ attempt.
The hardest part about running is always getting started. Regardless of whether you're brand new to the sport or if you're new to a training plan, building that first few weeks of physical and mental strength will crush your soul and leave you wondering why the hell you ever thought that running was a good idea if you don't take the necessary steps to work on your attitude.
And that's where I'm at right now. I'm a little over two weeks into my training for the London Marathon and I want to set everything on fire. My easy runs are hard. My long runs are even harder. Oddly enough, my hard runs have been fun but it's because they force me to stay in the moment. I don't have the brain space to throw myself a pity party when everything is happening so quickly.
It's not a secret, running isn't easy. Even after you fight your way through the first really painful weeks, it still doesn't get easier. You just develop the strength, resilience, and confidence to actually enjoy the experience. But regardless of where your athletic level is at, if you have a bad attitude, you're going to have a bad time.
I realized that I was being a total Debbie Downer after running with Carlee this weekend. As I struggled to stay on pace, I watched Carlee thank volunteer after volunteer, offer support to other runners, and give out high fives to anyone that offered it. While I focused on feeling sorry for myself, Carlee stuck by my side the entire time. Around mile 9, I started telling her to leave me because I could tell I was slowing her down. I actually told her that if I were in her position, I'd leave me. Even after that, she wouldn't leave me.
But it wasn't until I turned full run monster on the Police Officer that I realized how bad my attitude was. Immediately, I understood why I've been crashing and burning on some of my easier runs. I have a bad attitude. And while taking your negative attitude and making it a positive one isn't an overnight fix, here's how to take your first steps towards turning your frown upside down.
1. Psyche yourself up for a workout.
Easy run or crazy intimidating workout, get excited. If you look forward to the time you get to spend kicking ass-falt, you're already winning. Early wake up call? Start telling yourself, "I can't wait to get out there." Fake it until you become it people!
2. Take "have to" out of your vocabulary.
I know this is hard because I'm still struggling to break the habit myself. You won't turn into a pumpkin if you stop running. Remember, no one's forcing you to do it. It's a choice. You don't have to run, you get to run.
3. Investigate what's upsetting you.
Right now, I'm letting the fact that I took a break to recover upset me. I'm feeling frustrated that I took time off and lost fitness. I'm not running the mile I'm in, I'm wishing I were running the miles I was in a few months ago. Stay present. Stay focused. And don't forget to smile. It's a lot easier to enjoy something than it is to hate it which brings me to...
4. Make the choice not to suffer.
Remember this one? It's a Dr. Bob classic that totally blew my mind during my first Boston Marathon qualifying attempt. Right now, when my calves start to hurt mid run, I'm making the decision to suffer instead of giving myself permission to walk or run. I throw pity parties and yearn for easy running. Run the mile you're in and make the choice not to suffer.
5. Find your badass lady squad.
When you're struggling, having a supportive badass lady squad is a game changer. They distract you when your mental game starts to waver and they build you up whenever doubt sets in. AND, let's be honest, it's just a good time whenever you get to be with your badass lady gang. Find people to run with if you can. Always remember that we're stronger together.
I know how hard it is to put on a brave face when you're having a hard time. But working on your attitude really does make a huge difference. If you're struggling to find your running mojo, start working on your attitude. Remember, running should be equal parts hard work and fun. It's a balance.
Head up, wings out.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.