Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nightmares and Mental Toughness

With marathon training beginning in one week, I experienced my first marathon stress dream last night.  Buckle up for a crazy recap of an even crazier dream.  The dream race began at 10:00 (totally normal, right?!), and I absurdly decided to run the half marathon, which had an earlier start time, as a warm-up for the full.  I had a bit of downtime between the end of the half and the start of the full, but I never stopped my watch.  Therefore, when I finally started my 26.2, the numbers on my watch were totally meaningless.  Yet somehow that didn't seem overly stressful to my dream self.  I ended up stopping by my house several times during the race (though it is, of course, nowhere near the course), lollygagging about looking for another shirt and different socks.  I considered taking a shower, too, but fortunately, had the presence of mind to jump back into the race instead.  Though the dream seemed to last forever, I woke up before crossing the finish line, which only made things all the more frustrating.

The dream left me feeling defeated.  Why did I lack such focus during the race?  Why did I make such terrible decisions on race day?  And I couldn't even stay on the course throughout the race?!  Is my psyche trying to tell me that I can't do this?

With memories of the faux race still in my head, I laced up for a rare daylight run.  The weather was picture-perfect with sunny blue skies.  Despite the lovely the weather, however, I couldn't get out of my head and escape the defeated feeling of the dream.  The entire run felt like a mental battle, and I was tempted to call it a day after just two miles.  But I refused to accept defeat.  I forced myself to finish the distance I had planned, and I even managed to squeak out negative splits.

It was definitely a day for building mental toughness.  I know I will hit low points such as this again during training and most likely on race day, too.  Because I battled through this run, however, I will be better equipped to handle those future lows.  My psyche is wrong: I CAN do it!  And I will.