Once a distance runner, always a distance runner. Is that a saying? It should be. I think once we reach that threshold where long distance running becomes the norm, it’s hard to ever go back.
Every time I have been injured I question how I will ever get back to running x miles or x pace. And every time I do it, it’s not as hard as I expected. For me, there is the initial struggle of getting back to running at all. Like those first few runs back, even if I’m doing a 2 mile run/walk, are a struggle.
Then it seems like once I can do 3 miles comfortably, I could run forever if my body would let me. That’s an exaggeration, but for the most part my endurance comes pretty naturally. Things like hills and humidity make certain runs a struggle. Once my mind decides I am going to do something, my body usually follows suit.
Maybe this is what gets me in to trouble, but overall I think it’s a good quality. I know I am lucky to be able to come back to running and jump into a 10 mile run barely even thinking about it. I also know that it’s due in part to many years of long runs, where my mind had to convince my body to do something challenging.
As runners we need to train both our minds and our bodies. Just like the physical aspect of training, the mental part is really important. I think that when we take time off of running for whatever reason, we get “out of shape” both mentally and physically. The more experience you have with the mental side of training, the quicker that comes back.
I’ve talked before about how my mind is my own worst enemy. In a way, that’s true. But it is also one of my greatest strengths. There have been races where I mentally gave up and those have been the races that were the worst experiences for me. When I can keep my mind positive and strong, my best running happens.
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Do you feel like you will always be a distance runner at heart?
Which comes back faster for you- physical fitness or mental strength?
How do you overcome runs or races where your mind is not in the right place?