I’ve been noticing something lately that I was having a hard time articulating. My running has turned a corner. I think a huge part of that has been mental for me. Yes, it’s significantly easier to run 40 pounds lighter… but I was always able to run. Now I enjoy it. It’s still hard, and some days each step is a challenge. I still have aches and pains.. but I find myself able to better push through things that would have stopped me in my tracks even a year ago.
I’ve always liked the idea of a mantra. I tried to find one on my own- to come up with some original thing that resonated with me. Turns out I’m not as creative or well spoken as I had thought. I read Scott Jurek’s book “Eat and Run” and tried adopting his “sometimes you just do things.” But sometimes I just didn’t. I have an old workout DVD called “yoga booty ballet” that I occasionally like to do for “fun” and they make you say “I love, honor, and cherish my body.” But I didn’t. I wasn’t there. I’ve been at war with my body my entire adult life. I’ve had terrible issues with body image, and just self confidence in general. When a run felt hard, I mentally berated myself. I beat myself up for wanting to walk/stop/go slower. Loving and honoring my body was something so foreign to me that it was almost laughable. I needed something I couldn’t find.
My good friend Kaitlin is a large part of why I run. She saw me running, and started running. I found out she was running, so I kept running. She signed up for the Naperville half marathon (a distance I LAUGHED at the thought of ever in a million years running) and I signed up. Somewhere during that first year and training for that first half is when we got to be good friends. She was so patient when we’d run 10 miles at a 13:45 pace with me complaining every single step of the way. She could have run faster on her own, but she stayed with me, and kept me going. She introduced me to Oiselle.
Oiselle is an athletic clothing line made for and by women. With Kaitlin’s expert gift giving advice, I received a few Oiselle items from Santa that year- and I ADORED them. The logo for Oiselle is a bird, and since my boyfriend calls me Katiebird or sometimes just Bird, I was so on board for any graphic detail with a bird on it. The problem was my size. The items I got technically fit- but in a very painted on- not to be seen in public kind of way. So I packed them away in the back of the closet for “some day.”
Fast forward to this spring. My collection has grown a small amount (both presents received and purchased for myself.) And suddenly- things that were sausage casing tight- fit appropriately. I became obsessed with shopping online and stalking the website for sales. I’m sure their tag line was always “Head Up, Wings Out” but it didn’t find its place in my brain until this year. It started out kind of silly- reminding myself not to hunch forward when running. I began to realize that every time I said it- I stood taller, prouder, more confident. I tested it. I ran easy, I ran hard, I ran short, I ran long(er). No matter what, “Head Up,Wings Out” helped.
My times began to improve pretty rapidly. I went from running a 12+ minute mile to a 10+ minute mile on short distances in the span of 6 months. Since my very first 5k (which I think took me 40 minutes) I’ve had it in my head that “real runners” run that distance in 30 minutes or less. I can proudly say that I have now done that twice.
When the opportunity to join the Oiselle Volee team opened up- I jumped at the chance. A year ago, I would have said “someday when I’m a real runner I might join.” So much self doubt was holding me back. I realized recently that I was a real runner a long time ago. Before finding my mantra. Before hitting that time goal. Before running my first half marathon. I finally listened to the world when they say “if you run, you’re a real runner.” I’ve been running for five years, and each step I’ve been a real runner, even if I only realized it now. I know in my heart that finding my mantra is how I got here. It’s how I stopped the negative talk and replaced it with positivity.
This morning was a 4 mile easy run with my fur baby. He’s napping.
Tomorrow is three miles, Thursday is two. Then TWO rest days before the Foxy Valley half marathon. I’m stupid excited. More than I’ve ever been, I think. I’ve never felt this ready, and while I don’t know if I’ll PR (it’s pretty damn hilly) I’m hopeful I might.
So yeah. Mantras. Helped me get over a lot of mental garbage that was holding me back. Do you have one? What works for you? Do you stick to the same one- or change it out?
I’m starting to prune. Time to go adult.