TITLE: Crisis of Confidence
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: September 03, 2006 8:39 PM
DESC: During my long run today, it occurred to me that I might not have what it takes mentally to excel in my marathon this fall.
But here you are in the ninth
I had an abrupt crisis of confidence while running this
morning. My legs had just started to feel the miles.
Even though I've had good times in training the last
few weeks, I pictured myself in the marathon, at that
moment when my legs start hurting and I realize that
there are still 4 or 6 or 8 or 10 miles, when my resolve
is at its lowest and I simply have to gut it out if I
want to finish the race strong and meet my goal -- and
just then I wondered, maybe I'm just not tough enough
mentally to overcome. The prospect those remaining
4 or 6 or 8 or 10 miles suddenly seemed very lonely.
The crisis was short-lived. Pretty soon I was thinking
the other seemingly random thoughts that tend to fill a
3-hour run. But my earlier thoughts hung around my head
like an echo, with the lyrics and uneven melody of Billy
Joel's "Pressure" as accompaniment.
In that short period, I found myself wishing, almost
counterintuitively, for a tough run, or even a bad stretch
of training. Last summer went pretty smoothly, and
look where that goth me.
This year started with hamstring problems and so my
training started slower and bit tougher than usual, but
lately things have been going pretty well. When I'm on
the course in the Twin Cities and my resolve bottoms out,
will I have what it takes to gut it out?
In that short period, I found myself thinking of my friend
Greg who is training to run Twin Cities with me. He lives
in Arkansas, where summer is brutal on a marathon runner.
Constant heat and unbearable humidity add to the hilly
terrain to make every long run a chore. Greg's work
schedule makes training even tougher, as almost he has to
run in the middle of the night if he wants to get his
miles in. As a result, he is worried that he won't be
ready for the marathon. My counterintuitive thought was,
maybe he'll be better prepared than I am for handling
that "moment of truth" during the race; he'll have faced
hard, painful runs all summer long.
How is that for my egocentrism and feeling sorry for
myself? I guess a really long run on a rainy, dreary
day can do that to the best of us. Once I moved on to
my next thoughts, the idea that Greg somehow benefits from
his current suffering seems foolish, just the sort of
foolishness that someone who has had it easy sometimes
indulges in. The bottom line is that I have to find
the resolve when I need it. All the rest is just excuses.
Two men out and three men on
Nowhere to look but inside
Where we all respond to
-- Billy Joel
Don't ask for help
You're all alone
You'll have to answer to your own
-- Billy Joel