Ask anyone who knows me, he/she is very unlikely to describe me as possessing a “sunny” disposition. I tend to lean towards skepticism; I suppose that’s what made me a decent scientist (or vice versa?). However, there’s a difference between healthy skepticism and unfounded, negative thoughts. Whenever I get into a negative thought spiral, I try to remind myself to find at least one bright side of the situation. As cheesy as it sounds, I do believe in the power of positive thinking. This is especially true in endurance sports, which I think are just as challenging mentally as they are physically.
Basically, 3 huge storms are coming through the area, bringing up to 10 inches of rain, gusty conditions, and potential for flooding… which then proceeded to flood my mind with negative thoughts: “I’m going to be drenched and so uncomfortable for over 4 hours! There won’t be any spectators! People are going to be throwing their plastic trash bags and ponchos all over the place and I’ll slip and fall! Waaahhhh!” Then, a few positive thoughts came forward: “This will definitely be a race to remember! However I do, running it in a storm will make it so much cooler/sweeter! There might be a better sense of community amongst all of the runners who are all suffering together!” And really, what’s the worst that could happen? I’d catch a cold and/or get a few blisters? Which brings me to my next point…
I think I’m getting sick. There was a cold going around last week, and one of my co-workers has been pretty sick for almost a week. I woke up this morning with a scratchy throat. It hasn’t gotten that much worse, except for a very slight, dry cough. Again, my immediate reaction was, “Why is this happening to me?! Why NOW? WHY???” But I keep reminding myself that: 1. it could be a lot worse, i.e., I could have a physical injury that would prevent me from running at all, and 2. it’s already going to be raining, so why not throw in another obstacle for kicks?
All of this brings me to my point, which is the mental aspect of marathon training. Through the long runs, I’ve learned a lot about how to dig deep and what mantras work for me. Spending too much energy focusing on the negative only drains you, whereas positive thinking moves you forward. At the same time, I’m reminding myself daily about how tough those last miles of the marathon will be, and that it will NOT be a cake walk. I will be hurting, tired, and wanting to quit, but I have to remember to keep moving forward. It’s time to BRING IT.
On another note: pre-race nutrition. I was doing very well the past 2.5 days, eating lots of healthy veggies and carbs. Tonight, I indulged in a few things that did not fit into the pre-race diet: red wine, a burger, and fries. Oh, and I also picked up a donut for dessert, which I have yet to eat. I figured the burger would be good for replenishing my iron, the fries are carbs and sodium, and the donut fulfills the carbs and fried foods part of the equation. 🙂 I’ll write more later about what I plan to eat the day before the race and race day morning.
* In case you’re not a Monty Python fan, the title refers to a song from Life of Brian.