Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Mental Race

Thank you again to everyone for all of your support in my training for my race on Sunday. I really put myself out there a year ago to get to that day and I can't believe it's already over! I am pretty sure I am going to do it again but I would like to be able to do other types of races before then.

I have focused a lot on the physical part of preparing for the race but there is another aspect that I feel is even more important. The mental/emotional part of it! There were mental and extreme emotional parts to the race itself. There are also mental and emotional aspects of the training. Now it is time to tackle the mental/emotional part of eating.

The race was hard but I was pretty sure I could physically do it, even though the thought of finishhing the second 2 mile loop, without walking, was daunting. I had spent all spring and summer preparing for it and last fall learning how to run. The race was tiring. It was much more mentally tiring than I expected. I had known that I would most likely cry at the finish line but the tears didn't flow there, they flowed when I crossed the starting line and when I way my family and friends cheering for me. I cried just a little because I knew this was what I had spent all those hours preparing for and it was time to put myself to work. I didn't know the course so I didnt' know what to expect. I was worried about not being good enough; I was worried about looking like a fool to the other participants. After a few short minutes, I stopped caring about what strangers thought. I really just cared about making my sister and myself proud. I kept myself talking and was happy when my sister said I was keeping a great pace. I was excited when I crossed the transition line at just over 21 minutes but I didn't dwell on it. I still have two more legs ahead of me. I cruised through the bike course. I might even say it was relaxing for me. I knew this was my stronger sport and that I would be able to pass a number of women who weren't as strong. The next mental hurdle came on that second run when my lelgs started cramping only a few hundred feet into the run. I knew there were still 2 more miles infront of me and that I just had to keep moving. I walked a little but I kept a quick pace. I set mini goals for myself, "Just make it to the next lamp post", "Now keep jogging until you get to the water station." These were the little phrases that kept me going. I was determined to run the whole last mile and I did, even though it was a slow pace and I just really wanted to stop. Towards the end of the race, the course came around a corner and into the view of the spectators. I knew I wanted to end strong, so I picked up the pace. For some reason, my legs didn't hurt all that bad and my sister said I was going pretty well. I cruised intot he finish line and my heart skipped a beat. I was done and I didn't cry!

Now I know the race day emotions were big but what about those months of training? A year ago, I couldn't even jog 2 minutes let along a full mile! It was hard to force myself outside to get that work out in. I was haphazardly training. My thoughts told me when to give up and I did, for two months. I let the excuses get the best of me for two whole months in the middle of Winter. As I started to work up my jogging again in the Spring and into Summer, there were numerous moments where my emotions told me I shouldn't be able to do more than 2 minutes of running. But I committed to the Couch to 5k program. The plan pushed me through those times when I didn't want to keep running. I learned to stop looking at my watch and the time would go faster. When I hit that mental block, it was like a wall in my brain. There were times during my runs that I would talk out loud to myself to keep my body moving. That wall is a frustrating feeling that I have when I'm trying to work out and when I'm trying to eat healthy.

I know this is getting long winded but I promise I will get to my main point now.

I have this same mental block when I am trying to eat healthy but for me the mental block is usually a craving that takes over my whole thought process. When I think about how I feel emotionally when I want to binge, it's the same emotion I experience when I workout. It is really scary that it took me this long to figure that out. I know how to conquer the emotion when I am exercising. Can't I just take those same steps to get over the craving? This is something I am going to try to decipher next. Does anyone have any ideas for getting over that mental/emotional hurdle that comes with binge eating. Or is it really that individualized? I know I need to find alternatives to alleviate my cravings. In the past I have used small Jolly Ranchers to satisfy a sugar craving. Or I have just disconnected myself from the craving completely  and I go for a 30 min walk to keep myself physically away from the want. My cravings seem to be wants of convenience. I rarely will go out of my way to satisfy cravings, but if I can get my hands on the want, it is almost impossible to get away from it. If I think about how it makes me feel when those cravings and wants creep up on me, it is a feeling of giving into the weakness. It's the exact same feeling of giving in to the want to walk during my work outs. I feel weak and regretful after I give in.

So what am I going to do differently?  I am going to set a series of goals, one for each week announced on Sunday nights. Each goal will build on the previous. I announced this weeks goal on Twitter last night: to eat breakfast at home every day. There is a little teeny bit of background on this goal. I always eat breakfast before work. Most of the time it is at home, but sometimes it is on the way to work, usually a breakfast sandwich. I want this to stop. I have found that if I eat at home, I will not eat again until my morning snack at 10am. I will have to make sure to introduce variety into my breakfast plan. Usually I eat a bowl of cereal or and English muffin. I wold like to incorporate some baked eggs or oatmeal. Some of this will require some planning (I found a yummy recipe for baked pumpkin oatmeal, which will need some tweaking to get rid of the heavy cream and butter.)

So tune in on Sunday nights when I will announce a new goal. If you have any ideas for goals, let me know. You may come up with ideas when I'm stuck for new ones.

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