“You have to be willing to push yourself to accomplish hard things. But you also have to be willing to say, “Ok, today is not that day”, which sometimes is even harder. Doing hard things doesn’t always mean pushing harder, it also means slowing down and taking a break even when you don’t want to.”
When you hear the phrase, “You can do hard things”, what does that mean to you?
There are many different training plans you can find to help you train for a marathon that include speed work, tempo runs, and diet and hydration tips to get you to that 26.2 finish line. But not many of those training plans include mental work. The hardest part of any marathon or whatever race you are running in life, is the 6 inches between your ears.
Is running a marathon hard, sure! Learning to play an instrument or a foreign language as an adult, yep! How about having the courage to walk away from an unhealthy relationship—you betcha!
Your body and your mind work together. If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you most likely wont be able to achieve it. Your body listens to your mind. But your mind also listens to your body. And when you are running a marathon there needs to be a balance, but it can be challenging to decide what to listen to when your body is unhappy, anxious and stressed because you are pushing it. Finding the balance of the two can be an artform.
The same goes for life! You can let the stressors of life cause physical strain on your body, but you also can do the mindset work to take control.
Strength is seen in many forms. To this day one of the most mentally challenging things I ever faced was the demise of my marriage. I had to dig deep inside and begin a lot of mindset work to work through the challenges I was facing.
The second most mentally challenging thing I have faced was the NYC Marathon this past Sunday, with a bit of physical challenges thrown in there as well. If this would have been my first marathon ever, I’m not sure I would have signed up for another.
My 2022 NYC marathon experience began in April when I was accepted to run for a charity, Team Move For Hunger. I officially began training in May. During my second long training run I tripped over a 1-inch lip on a sidewalk and down I went. Not only scraping up my knee but breaking my wrist in the process.
The first 2 ½ months of training I was in a cast (that had to get changed out due to the sweat). The break, although frustrating as hell, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t able to lift weights due to the cast, but I worked with my physical therapist to strengthen my core and lower body which was making me stronger and my runs faster.
During my last long training run I had never felt so prepared physically for a marathon. But then, my lovely weather app decided to mess with my mind. I started looking at the NYC weather forecast a few weeks out and saw the temperatures rising in New York. The last 4 times I have run the marathon in New York we had perfect running temperatures between 45-55.
Two days before the marathon the race director sent out an email letting the runners know the weather was going to be unseasonably warm and to boot—80% humidity was the icing on the cake.
Marathon morning I was telling myself over and over to just slow my pace down, drink more fluids and trust my training. The transportation to get to the start was a bit of a cluster only leaving me 10 minutes to use the bathroom then sprint to my corral. By the time I got to the start line I was already sweating.
The star-spangled banner was sung (beautifully), then the cannons shot off sending us on our way. Frank Sinatra was singing New York New York and my feet started moving one in front of the other. Here we go.
Mile 1-2: Weaving in and out of the walkers, the breeze on the Verrazano bridge is giving me hope that even though the sun is beating down on us, it’s going to be ok. I’ve been training at altitude, I’ve got this.
Mile 2-3: How am I already sweating so much? I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest. How am I going to run another 24.2 miles? Damn it, my earbud just fell out!
Mile 3-4: The cheers as we enter Brooklyn are amazing! Ok here is the crowd that is going to get me through. Damn I’m already sweating like I just ran 15 miles! AHHH! Oh thank you random runner friend for picking up my earbud and getting it back to me!
Mile 4-5: Nope, I can’t do this. Stop saying that, yes you can. Nope, I am pretty sure I better drop out so I don’t die! Wait, ok, I think I can do this, I just have to pull back my pace a little. Damn it my music isn’t working. Breathe!
Mile 5-6: Why do I run marathons? Focus on the signs Jasmine, look at the signs! High five these cute kiddos. Oh and I’m supposed to be counting dogs, I think that is 5 I’ve seen.
Mile 6-7: 20 more miles! CRAP! This route was not as hard the last 4 times. Oh wait, we weren’t running in hell like temperatures! How did I ever live in Kansas with this dumb humidity!?
Mile 7-8: I have already drank twice as much water and Gatorade as I usually do. I just wish the sun would go away I thought it was going to be overcast. OMG a cute little kid just said GO JASMINE, I love that my name is on my shirt!
Mile 8-9: I think I should just drop out at mile 13. Making a half marathon in this heat is good enough. There is no shame in dropping out Jasmine. Wait, why not just walk it rather than drop out? Well, I feel ok now, oh look—another dog, I think that’s 9?
Mile 9-10: These volunteers are so amazing! And this crowd, every time I think I should stop they yell for me! What is dripping on my back? Oh, that is the sweat coming off my braid. Aid station is coming up, YAY they have Vaseline, slather that on my arms!
Mile 10-11: How did I make it to 10? My legs feel great but this heat and humidity! Body check. Legs are feeling good, core is tight, heart rate is a bit high, slow down a little Jazz. Ouch, my toenail is a little sore, it’s probably nothing.
Mile 11-12: Alright the first bridge is done, the halfway mark is coming up soon what are you going to do? This heat! Ok, just stop at 13, don’t hurt yourself, it’s not worth it there will be other marathons. No, keep going, you can do this girl.
Mile 12-13: RAIN! YAY!! Usually I hate rain when I run but you have saved me, for now anyway! And clouds, woohoo!! The funk of the streets is splashing on my legs, but I don’t even care! Ok, now I think stopping doesn’t make sense, keep it up!
Mile 13-14: This bridge looks so steep. Ok, do it Jazz, walk it’s ok. Ok I’m walking do I just stop then? No, start running again—you got this! Wait, body check…everything is good. Ok, one mile at a time girlie girl!
Mile 14-15: A guy just walked off the course and said, “I’m out!”. More than halfway, get to Queensborough bridge then you can make the call. But that rain certainly helped. Take a Gu, sip on my water. That sign just said Taylor Swift is at the finish, really?
Mile 15-16: FUCK YOU QUEENSBOROUGH BRIDGE! That is all!
Mile 16-17: The bridge is done, take a deep breath! Do you have 10 more in you, yes you do. Yes you do. YES YOU DO! Damn it my toe, I think my toenail fell off!
Mile 17-18: Crap I forgot to keep track of dogs, there is one! A spectator has a power up sign, do you think I’ll get power? I’m going to hit it. Look at these orange slices all over the ground, where was someone handing out orange slices I could have used that! OMG I just saw a woman down and medics around her. OMG there is another one! Slow your pace. I hate that my name is on my shirt!
Mile 18-19: Oh hello wall, you came a little sooner than usual. Spots. SHIT! I am seeing spots and I am so cold. I have goosebumps and I am not sweating. Ok walk, just walk for a bit Jazzy, drink some water. Body check, are you safe?
Mile 19-20: OMG this guy is going to fall! The crowd just caught him! People are falling like flies should I be stopping? Take a salt pill, drink some water. It’s still not a failure if you drop out Jasmine, what do you think? Let’s make the call at 20.
Mile 20-21: I think the salt pill kicked in, I seem to be sweating again a little, or maybe that is just my hair still dripping from before. Holy crap look, It’s Tiki Barber, I’m passing Tiki Barber!! Ok, don’t stop yet Jazz. But—are you ok? Yes, yes just slow and steady.
Mile 21-22: How did I hit another wall? Damn it! Ok walk, take some breaths, take a Gu, take a drink. Body, are you ok? Yes? No. Wait, YES! Look a dog! (At this time reaching down to touch my Bailey button, my sweet girl who passed away just 2 weeks before the race).
Mile 22-23: Look at that sign! “YOU GOT THIS!” That is what I needed. You got this Jazz, you got this! I’m so cold! These goosebumps on my arms! Am I sweating again—come on body, I love you so much, thank you for being so strong!
Mile 23-24: Are you kidding? How does 5th Avenue get steeper every year? I have to walk! “I see you Jasmine you got this girl”. Start running Jazz. “Way to go Jasmine picking up that pace”. Thanks random stranger!!
Mile 24-25: This is it Jasmine, no stopping now, just go slow and keep going, just keep moving. Listen to that crowd!
Mile 25-26: Are you kidding me? A juggler, are you serious? There is a runner right in front of me running and juggling are you kidding me? “YES JASMINE” I just made eye contact with this women who basically told me with her eyes I can do this. YES YOU CAN GIRL…keep moving, drink water!
Mile 26-26.2: These crowds are unreal! And this hill at the end is dumb. But I see the finish line! Body you are so amazing! Mind you are so amazing! I think I’m going to cry, wait no don’t I don’t want to get more dehydrated. Here we go, arms up, YES. I DID IT!!
The hottest NYC marathon was in 1979 when the temperatures hit 80 degrees. So we didn’t quite reach that, but it was the hottest NYC marathon since 1986.
The human body is incredible. To be able to train and run 26.2 miles, hike Kilimanjaro, ride your bike across America, or push a freaking baby out of your vagina! But personally, I think the human mind is even more amazing.
Your mind is so so powerful and can do amazing things. Pushing yourself to do hard things is amazing, but it’s also sometimes harder and takes more strength to pull back or even quit something if it’s unhealthy or is not serving you in life. There is no shame in taking breaks or even walking away—what is important is that you are checking in with yourself—daily.
Mentally preparing yourself for a marathon is the same as the mindset work that needs to be done to prepare yourself for life in general or changing your mindset after you have experienced challenging or unexpected life transitions. Mental training and mindset work get you to a place where you can work through the discomfort or challenges in a healthy way.
- Focusing on the area where you need or want to improve. Listing out steps you can take. If it’s your pace if you are running, write down steps on how to improve it. If it’s how to set boundaries with your family and friends, write out things you can say, for example, “I’m going to pass on going out to dinner, I need a little me time but thank you for the offer”.
- Select a mantra or affirmation that will help you each day. Or have a few. “I can do this”. “One day at a time”, or you all know my fav, “You Got This!”
- Check in with yourself, a lot! Are you pushing TOO hard? You know yourself better than anyone else—trust that. Back off if you need to. Take breaks and stop if you need to. Quitting something in life is not always a bad thing. Quit because you’ve lost your passion. Quit because you are unhappy. Quit because it’s unhealthy for you. Quit because you deserve more.
- Breathe, deep breaths! Breathing deep helps both our physical and mental state.
This was by far my most challenging marathon. Both mentally and physically, even though it was my best training. My heart rate got to 190 at one point, my toenail didn’t fall off but I got a beauty of a blister, I stopped sweating which I know from the past is a sign of heat exhaustion. But, the hardest part of this marathon was not pushing myself as hard as I wanted to and forcing myself to hold back so I didn’t injure myself, pass out or die!
I run marathons for the physical challenge and the feeling of accomplishment I have at the end. I’m not telling you to go run a marathon, but I promise you if you really wanted to, you could. However, what I am saying is that whatever challenge you take on or are faced with in life, if you work on your mindset, push yourself (but not too hard) and listen to your mind and your body…you will get through it—even if that means changing your original plan. Don’t let those ugly thoughts in your head win, you DO have the power over them.
You my friend can do hard things!
Even when you plan out your day, your week, your year or your plan for your metaphorical marathon—the universe can throw heat and humidity your way or it might present you with a setback you weren’t prepared for. In the end, how you choose to respond to obstacles you are faced with is what really matters—and it shows your strength. Life doesn’t always go as we plan, but life happens the way it’s supposed to.
** My heart hurts for all of those runners whose bodies just couldn’t handle the heat and humidity and collapsed—which includes Daniel do Nascimento who was leading the professional men but collapsed at mile 21. I hope you are all recovering. And a HUGE thank you to the city of New York for coming out and supporting all of the runners and cheering us on. Your signs, your children, your dogs and your cheers helped get so many of us to the finish line. Thank you! ***
Remember, YOU GOT THIS!
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