Often times in marathons there are signs that are put along the course by supporters, usually for inspiration. One sign that I often remember was a two part series… the first sign said something like this “running is a mental game,” followed by a second sign stating “and we think you’re all crazy.”
As we are coming into the thick of race season and as our long runs are increasing, I wanted to address a topic that is applicable to all. I am reminded of a marathon I ran a few years back when I was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This was before Boston had lowered their qualifying times and the time for my age group was 3:10:00. At first this was more of just a dream or an idea, but as my training continued the dream became more of a goal and more of a reality.
My training runs during the week and my long runs on the weekends all started to lineup and land within the pace range I needed to keep in order to qualify. Still, however, I did not really think I was going to be able to make it. The race day came. I rode the bus to the starting line. As I got off the bus rain started to trickle. By the time the race started we were covered with water. I did have a garbage bag that covered my top, but I started the race with my shoes a little squishy. This was not going to stop me.
At the beginning of the race it was going well and at the midpoint I had met my goal of an hour and a half. As the race continued on, I started to get tired and my mind began to wander as is common during the later stages of a marathon. Read More….
My passion for running has been over 10 years in the making, and I owe a great deal of my running passion to my Dad. He may not know this or take credit for this, but he is a big reason I ran my first marathon. I was once at a family gathering at my aunt’s house and happened to be looking at their family pictures. One of the pictures was a photo of my uncle running a marathon. I talked a little bit to my uncle about his running, and it started to spark my interest. I later was speaking to my dad and jokingly mentioned that we should run a marathon, like my uncle. You have to understand at the time I did not do much running for fun, if I did run it usually involved a ball. I never had run a 5k, let alone a marathon.
Last Saturday morning I laced up my shoes again for another 5K. It was the Draper Days 5K and as I toed the line, and saw the many talented runners around me, I was struck with the realization that I was going to have to work hard to place well in this one. This would be no “walk in the park”. The race turned out to be one of those rare occasions where I felt like I was mentally tough and pushed through the pain to get to a new level.
Here are a few mental toughness strategies which may help you get to that next level in a workout or a race:
Running really is a sport where being mentally tough makes a HUGE difference in your performance.
What do you do to be mentally tough in your workouts and/or races?
by Janae Richardson – Runner | USATF Certified Coach
Click the play button below to listen to the full interview or you can download the MP3 file by clicking the “Download” button.
UtahRunning.com: Well, hello, everyone. We’re excited to have a great interview today with Ed Eyestone. Ed is an incredible runner and coach with strong ties to the Utah Running community. Ed’s a coach at BYU and an all-around running expert. We’re excited to have him tell you a little bit about himself, share some of his experiences, and maybe give us some tips on how you can improve your own time. Thanks for joining us, Ed.
Ed Eyestone: Thanks. Good to be here.
UtahRunning.com: Well, maybe if we could just start out with having you tell us a little about your running background. How you got started and some highlights of your career.
Ed: Well, I got started way back in junior high school. I actually played little league baseball. I played a lot of baseball and was hoping to play on the junior high and high school baseball teams. Like happens to a lot of people who end up being good runners, I ended up getting cut from the junior high baseball team. So, as a result of not being able to continue playing the sport that I loved, in the spring of the year, I realized for the first time that there was actually another sport going on, and that was track and field. So, I went and spoke with the junior high track coach the next day, Noel Zabriski , my Spanish teacher. I asked him about tryouts for the track team. He said, you know what, if I came out every day and I did the things that he told me to do, and just tried my hardest, then I could be on the track team and there would be no cuts on the track team. I liked that and knew I wasn’t going to necessarily be the fastest guy in the world, but I knew I could try as hard as anybody.
So, that was my initiation, back as a 7th‑grader at T.H. Bell Junior High. From then, I just continued with the sport. The great thing about running is that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I found that over the course of my 7th, 8th, and 9th‑grade years, that as I dedicated myself and tried to do the workouts, the harder I worked, the better I became and the more improvement that I saw. I really liked that about the sport. That’s just how I got started and progressed from there to junior high school and on.
UtahRunning.com: So, you competed there at BYU and after your college career, you became a professional runner. How was that transition from those college events to some of the highlights during your post‑collegiate career?
Ellie Kate Simmons, a 7 year-old second grader from Jordan Ridge Elementary School in South Jordan, Utah finished her first ever running race, the 30th annual 13.1 mile St. George Half Marathon, this past weekend. Ellie finished in a time of 2:37 and was the youngest runner on the course.
Ellie was inspired to start running after finding out that her mom, Anne Johnson Simmons ran the 26.2-mile St. George Marathon 30 years ago when she was just 8 years old. Ellie and her mom began training soon after her baby brother was born last July. They started out just walking to school each day which eventually turned to running to school and then each week they would add 1 more mile to their training program until they could run 13- miles. Ellie said the best part about the race was the Gatorade at the aid stations and meeting a new friend, 38 year-old Debbie Labaron from Clearfield, UT who caught up to Ellie to find out how old she was and ended up running and visiting with her and her mom for many miles. Ellie was also running for a special cause and wore her pink running outfit to honor her 71 year-old grandmother, Linda Simmons, who was supposed to be running with her but underwent colon cancer surgery a few weeks ago and was not able to participate this year.
What’s next for Ellie? Her mom, aunt and uncle are race directors for southern Utah’s new Top of Zion Relay in June and northern Nevada’s Ruby Mountain Relay in August, both part of the Run Back Country running series, so she will keep up her training so she can run those relays with her cousins and maybe even join her parents and grandmother on the St. George Marathon course in October. Running is part of Ellie’s family tradition and she wants other kids to know that you are never too young to start living a healthy and active lifestyle.