We choose all the right gear for our runs: the right clothes, the right shoes, the right fuel, the right music, etc. Sometimes we have to gear up mentally, too. While we always need to be in the right mind set to have a good run, it becomes more difficult when life throws you a curveball. Even the little curveballs.
How often have you sweated the small stuff? How often did it matter?
I usually run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday . . . unless I don’t. That schedule works for me because it allows for one or two harder runs (tempos, speed work) with rest between them, a long run, and one easy/recovery run.
I had every intention of running yesterday. I knew I might get home late due to Sunday’s concert, but it ended up being even later than I thought (half hour break between each of three artists!).
I woke up just a little later than normal, but went to bed much later than normal, even though we left before the concert ended. Could I run? Of course I could. Did I want to? Nope. Especially knowing I’d be up later Monday night too.
On top of that, the rain that was forecast to come in midday started while I was out walking the dogs around 7:30 am. That sealed the deal for me.
I am a person who likes prior notice when something hard or painful needs to be done. I remember back in college, I had a very deep, very painful plantar’s wart on the ball of my foot. When I finally got to a podiatrist, they were ready to do laser surgery on the spot . . . only I wasn’t mentally ready. I came back a week later.
My run Monday? I can run in the rain. I have done so many times. In summer it can actually feel quite nice. I just wasn’t mentally prepared for rain that morning, and wouldn’t have dressed for it either, since I wasn’t expecting it. The truth is I really needed a rest day, so I took it, but I know if the day had been dry, I would have at least entertained the idea of running.
It will be harder to juggle running the rest of the week between a few appointments and a visit from my brother and nephew.
Training Mental Flexibility
The first step is to recognize where you’re inflexible. Maybe you can’t relax until your kitchen is completely tidy — if so, please feel free to come to my house and tidy up mine, because I guarantee you it’s rarely tidy. Maybe you can’t go to sleep if there are clothes on the floor. Maybe you won’t run in certain weather or at certain temperatures.
The second stop is to let go of your inflexibility — maybe just one or two days a week. Go walk with the family even though there are dishes in the sink. Run in the rain. Leave your husband’s dirty socks wherever they are.
The third step is to notice how that felt. Did it really make you anxious? Were you able to do something fun you’ve been putting off doing, or spend more time with your friends and family? Did you really feel more stressed — or did you actually feel as though a weight was lifted from your shoulders? Did you melt in the rain?
Be brutally honest with yourself. You may tell yourself that you really can’t do _____ until ________ is done, and it might be true — or it might be something that was just ingrained in you as you were growing up, and you never stopped to question it or notice if it was really making you calmer or adding yet more stress to your already stressful life.
The more you practice anything, the better you get at it.
Do you consider yourself to be a mentally flexible person?
Have you ever even thought about the need to train mental flexibility?
What are your tips for maintaining a mentally flexible attitude?