Are you guys familiar with the show “How I Met Your Mother”? One of my favorite characters from that show is Barney, the overconfident player type, and one my favorite lines of his from that whole series, “You don’t train for a marathon, you just run it!” His training approach also reflects that mentality. It’s also SO far from the truth, because marathons totally take a LOT of training. I’m currently training for a half-marathon sparked by a comment thread with Our Next Life on one of their posts or ours, I forget really, but it gave me the idea and I set the goal. So, for 6 weeks now I’ve been training to run a half-marathon in 2 more weeks. While Barney’s approach that “it’s all mental” factors in somewhat, you definitely need to also put in the hard work.*
This past Thanksgiving the most distance I’d ever run at one time was 4.7 miles. I just couldn’t break the 5 mile mark. I was so envious of other people I’d see running effortlessly and for longer than 25 minutes and I thought, “if only I could hit 5 miles…” For non-runners, I can’t explain this feeling especially since I’ve only recently admitted I like running, lol. I started where anyone starts when stuck on a problem and I googled, “how can I run 5 miles?”. I was struck by the plethora of forums out there for runners, running issues, proper form, pacing (wtf is pacing?), and so, I got more serious about it.
Until then, I’d treated running as a quick form of exercise but never with any thought about technique or “proper” form. I quickly realized my form sucked… Drunken Monkey was my apparent running style, so I started focusing on that, followed by working on slowing my pace. I ran like a sprinter horse because my “comfortable pace” was an 8 minute mile or about 7.5 mph.
However, I’d be out of energy after a half hr or so and I couldn’t get myself to slow down. So I worked at slowing down, and slowing down a lot. I dropped 2 minutes off my pace and holy cow, I was able to run 5 miles no problem! Seriously, after focusing on my pace and form I was able to hit 4.75 miles on one run, then 4.9 miles in another run, which killed me because I was so close to my randomly set goal of 5 miles…. The next night I ran that same route and then a little extra to be sure and finally broke my 5 mile barrier! I realized I did it by educating myself “how to do it” and also putting in the work with my form and pacing.
Great, now that I’ve educated myself and gotten better form, I still worried about running the actual half-marathon distance of 13.2 miles. I’ve done a couple of 9 mile runs, and talking with other runners that have run half marathons, I kept getting reassured that I’d be fine for the last 4 miles, but I hadn’t accepted that mindset yet. However, last Monday night I went out to run 5.5 miles and I ended up running 13.4 miles! How? I didn’t let myself believe it wasn’t possible. I was feeling good and I thought “if I’m feeling good, I should see how far I can go”. So I did and I kept going and when I got to 10.5 miles I knew I could finish the entire distance. I had a good pace and rhythm and so I just kept going, smiling even because I knew I was going to do it.** I didn’t just tell myself, “yeah I probably could’ve gone another 3 miles”, I actually did it. I ran an unofficial half-marathon distance without even walking! Yeah!!
That’s when I realized that training for a half-marathon is similar to FI in that I just needed to adjust my mindset that it is possible. I didn’t think FI was possible until I changed my mindset and broke that mental barrier that was holding me back. I also didn’t think 6 months ago that running 5 miles was possible, let alone 13.4 miles, and yet I ran that distance without stopping last Monday night. For both, you need to have a positive mindset that they are achievable, and you also have to put in the hard work to achieve either outcome successfully.
It took me a long time to get my mindset changed on our FFLC plan and for the longest time it didn’t feel like we were getting anywhere. Like with my running, we’re now in the “final 3 miles” of our FI plan, and the hard work is paying off.
Mrs. SSC recently changed her mindset that she was too old to learn the cello, and is now practicing and learning how to play. Nick at The Money Mine changed his mindset on half-marathons and ran one a few weeks ago – Congrats again! At The Frugal Farmer Laurie’s daughter Maddie changed her mindset and was able to fight her way out of a crowd of kicking, punching adults – whoa!
Do you have anything you changed your mindset on?
*After he completed his marathon, Barney’s legs quit working on the subway and he is stuck for hours riding loops around the city. Without the training his legs couldn’t handle the immediate shock of running a marathon.
** I still don’t desire to do a whole marathon because that just seems horrid and sadistic. I can’t picture myself smiling during a full marathon, so for now, I’ll just do half.