In my Nike Women’s [Half] Marathon recap I referenced my inner white robot. As I typed it, I realized I had never actually discussed the inner white robot before and therefore was making no sense to most [read: all] of you.
Back in May, when running a half-marathon was only a figment of my dreams, I stumbled upon an article on Women’s Health called:
Determination? I have determination. Or do I? I must read this and find out.
And without getting all weird and deep on you, it kinda changed my outlook on life… well, maybe not life, but definitely running. So I think you should read it too…
If you didn’t read it, basically what it talks about is having grit.
… in 2002, Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, and her colleagues interviewed high achievers in various fields and found that they all shared one personal quality: grit. Defined as “sustained perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” grit seemed to explain why more top CEOs hail from state schools than from the Ivy League, and why some people gut out that last series of situps in boot camp while others flop on the floor when the burn really kicks in. According to Duckworth, “Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges and maintaining effort and interest despite failure, adversity, and plateaus.” While some people cut their losses when faced with boredom or disappointment, those with grit stay the course.
The article uses 29-year-old Micha Burden as an example. An average swimmer who went out and trained for a grueling ocean marathon called Open Water Swimming. She wanted to not only compete, but win. It states:
“I showed up for my workouts and got my butt kicked every day,” she says. But she didn’t give up, despite the fact that even Kenneth Baum, the sports performance consultant she had hired, pointed out how difficult it would be for her to reach her ambitious goal. “Her times were so slow; she was far off the national mark,” admits Baum, author of The Mental Edge, who nonetheless stuck by his client. “At one point I was thinking, You’re kidding—this isn’t going to happen. And then she blew everybody’s mind.”
And everyone out of the water. In October 2007, Burden managed to beat 24 superior athletes to win the U. S. Open Water World Championship Trials in Fort Myers, Florida. How’d she pull it off? Baum chalks it up to grit.
I remember reading that and thinking, Hell, I don’t even want to win the damn half-marathon. I just want to finish.
So pre-marathon sign-up I decided, whatever it is I decided to do next, I was doing it with grit.
The article goes on to explain that while some people naturally have grit, others can learn and develop it. Phew. I was in the latter category. I knew I could do it — but without some tricks it’d be hard.
Baum, the author noted above, suggests in the article “latching on to mind games to help you push through the discomfort.” The article quotes:
Baum personally uses imagery to get through difficult races. “I say to myself, My legs are like pistons, my lungs like bellows,” he explains. “It lets me focus on the mechanics and not on the pain.”
After reading this article, I was at the beach attempting about 3-4 miles; it was one of my first times out after signing on the dotted line and I felt a stitch abruptly tear through my abdomen.
I thought to myself “I am not human; this is not pain. I am… I am…” and completely forgetting the reference he had made — probably becuase I don’t even know what pistons look like — the white robot from the movie, I, Robot, popped into mind.
I trucked on realizing about a half a mile later that while my stitch was still there, I hadn’t been paying attention. As far as I was concerned I was a machine that was not held down by human traits such as stomach cramps. Grrrrrrr.
Pretty intense right?
Whatever. It works.
There were a couple times out there on the Nike course that I channeled my inner white robot — one being up the big hill and then sporadically throughout the last two miles. Oh and at the end when I sprinted to the finish line.
Can’t you see the white robot there? See? Vrooom!
One other thing worth noting in the article is that grit requires more than just mental determination. It requires passion. You have to love what you are doing to want to get out and do it.
I did/do love running. But not all the time. There were days that I ran because I had to and days that I ran because I wanted to.
Now that the race is in the past *tear* a lot of people have asked me, “Are you going to keep it up?” I remind myself before flashing a look of offense that before May I was a very sporadic runner. It’s a very very fair question.
The answer is also very very easy. OF COURSE.
I genuinely really enjoy it. I love the sweat. I love the runner’s high. I love the sore legs. I love the anticipation before a run. I love knowing that I have that outlet.
I’ll keep it up. I may not run on those days that I “don’t feel like running.” I will likely replace some of those days with yoga/pilates classes. But running’s here to stay.
However, with that said, I did tell myself I would take a break after the run. The tightness and pain I was feeling after the run was too much to consider running in the next few days.
But that was before I went for a massage (THANKS TO MY LADIES FOR SUCH A WONDERFUL AND PERFECT GIFT!) at my favorite spa and all the pain washed away. Seriously, that woman had the hands of a hot fireman who had just given me a blue box (there go those visualizations again). She was WONDERFUL!
Today I felt the anticipation. My legs were itching to get out there… so I planned on coming home and doing just that.
Yeeeeeah, well, that didnt happen. I got sidetracked and distracted.
Instead of being outdoors pounding pavement I’m sitting in my kitchen with a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of champers (THANK YOU LIBBY!!!) celebrating not running. I held off on cheese the entire week before the run (it tends to upset my stomach) so I needed to indulge a bit.
Oh, I am also casually looking at the photo of me running that is now my iPhone backdrop. (Oh boy!)
I clearly have no problem celebrating myself with myself; who else loves me this much. lol.
As to getting back in my running shoes, I am running a 10K with my cousin this weekend, the NYC Urbanathlon next weekend…
and currently Googling 2012 halfs… Nashville? Napa? New Orleans?
What do you think? Any recommendations for the perfect location for a SECOND half marathon?