This is borrowed from my RunSouthFlorida.com article. To read my other submissions as well as the entire November issue, click here.
In 2007, I ran the Chicago Marathon. Well, technically, I ran the first 16 miles and then was told not to run or I would be tasered (true story). That was the year that summer decided to visit Chicago in October blessing the city with unthinkable temperatures. The race was cancelled and people were bussed back to the finish line but I refused to be one of them.
While I was training for my first marathon, a dear friend of mine passed away from cancer. This obviously affected my experience so Chicago became my redemption race. I trained really hard and vowed to finish strong. There were plenty of ‘Rocky’ moments with me running in the rain, pushing through with laser sharp focus. Plus, since I train in the humidity and heat in Miami, Chicago’s mild temps would be a perfect recipe for a good race, right? Well, things don’t always go as expected.
Since I couldn’t run (without risking my safety) I walked…….and walked……..and walked. I walked 10.2 miles to be exact. Along the way I found a sign left by someone who I assumed was once a spectator but had decided to abandon his station. It read “It’s Gonna Happen”. That year the Chicago White Sox were trying to reclaim the AL Central title and the city was really into it. I picked up the sign and held it high over my head. I repeated “It’s Gonna Happen” over and over again (sometimes to myself, sometimes out loud) with each step. All I focused on was the feeling and energy of those words and eventually I crossed the finish line.
That was my first introduction to a mantra, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary means ‘a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in mediation or mindfulness.’ I had read about mantras before and saw them mentioned in yoga texts but I never really connected with one before that day. What it did for me was give me something else to focus on besides the heat, my aching body and my desire to just get on the comfy finish line bus.
There comes a time during each race, or while training, when things get challenging. It is during moments like this that having your personal mantra can be critical. So how do you create your own? Since most of them aren’t laying in the street waiting for you to run past them like my sign, I suggest you think about why you run in the first place: Is it for a loved one? Do you do it for health reasons? Is it a personal challenge for you?
Whatever brings you to running, make that your mantra. Here are a few to get you started: “pain is weakness leaving the body,” “the body achieves what the mind believes”, “there will be a day when I can no longer run, today is not that day”, “I run for those who can’t”, “light as a feather, free as a bird”, “Finish the mile you are in” and so on and so on…
Whatever you choose, believe in the words and allow them to fuel your resolve. There is power in our thoughts and if you can focus on something positive, it will train your brain to stay the course. You’ve got this.