My last marathon was a real challenge. With my injuries starting to manifest themselves after only 5km, I knew I was in for a very long run…
As I had expected and shared with you in a previous post, my last marathon was a real challenge. With my injuries starting to manifest themselves after only 5km, I knew I was in for a very long run…
In a racing environment such as this, realising you are no longer competitive (even if you’re competing against yourself only) can be very disappointing and frustrating. (I can only start to comprehend the emotions Rafael Nadal went through at the Australian Open final last Sunday…)
For me, this marathon became a mental battle – every step of the way. I jumped between feelings of hope and pessimism; zoning out to forget the pain and focusing on the pain to try reducing it; tears in my eyes and cheerful encouragements for other runners. By far the biggest lesson I learnt about myself from this event: I am mentally strong (or stubborn and borderline crazy, some may say).
Resilience, that is ‘toughness’ or the capacity to recover from challenges, is an important life skill to help overcome setbacks and keep working towards our goals. But what exactly does mental toughness look like ‘in the moment’?
With the benefit of hindsight, I can reflect on thoughts and actions that helped me practice and build on my resilience during the marathon:
– Recognise the difficulty: The first and most difficult step for me was to acknowledge the pain and the fact that I would not finish the race in a good time. Recognising this helped me set a new, more realistic goal: to finish the race.
– Talk about it: Sharing my pain with my two running companions allowed them to express empathy and encourage me to keep going. This peer support played such an important role in me completing the race.
– Be positive: Running for 42km gives a lot of opportunities for self-talk… Telling myself I was doing well and I had done great training for this event really helped boosting my confidence level. Another factor for me was to focus on external things such as how beautiful the scenery was.
– Focus on small steps: One of the things that kept me going one kilometre after the other was to focus on smaller goals. In this case, I was focusing on running non-stop until the next drink station, where I could walk for a short time while rehydrating myself.
– Prepare: The training I had done for the event gave me a level of confidence which helped me remain tough in the face of adversity.
– Support others: Last but not least, cheering other runners (particularly my two running companions) and encouraging them to keep going helped increase my own energy level and generate positive team spirit (“we’re in this together”).
Although I had many low moments during my run, these thoughts and behaviours supported me to forge through to the finish line in a time of 4h 03m (as opposed to my personal best of 3h 26m).
When has your own resilience been put to the test? How could these principles be applied in a work situation? Or in your personal life?