(Half) Mental

Can you think of anything that is purely physical? (No, not even that.)

Everything we do has some mental element, some intent behind it. And if it doesn’t, well, what’s the point?

It’s the mental piece that makes things interesting. Watching my kids play their respective sports this weekend was an interesting study in this. In one case, there was a team of nine little girls playing soccer. Some were clearly focused on the fact that the ball needed to do one thing – go into the goal. Some were aware that they were having fun on a sunny Saturday morning, running with their friends on a grassy field. The common denominator was the physical piece – they were all there to run and kick a ball. The interesting part was what was driving each of these little girls.

In the other case, my son’s lacrosse team was even more interesting. All of the nine and ten year-old padding-bedecked boys were united in their focus on creaming the opposing team. A closer look, however, revealed that each was playing his part with a varying amount of confidence and passion.

Neither of these instances were unlike what my running pals and I witnessed on Sunday during the Atlanta (Half) Marathon. The uniting factor for the 13,000+ runners was, well, running. The interesting part was the intent that each of us brought to the start line.

Everyone I know who ran the race would give you a reason for running. And almost each reason was singular. Fitness, personal goals, fun, a friend convinced them to sign up, they were running for a cause, they were racing… Some would say a combination of factors. Ultimately, it’s not so much what the intent behind the run happens to be, so much as it matters that there is an intent for the physical effort.

Going into the race on Sunday, I thought my intent was to test my training. It was a way to find out if the extra Yassos, the added five miles each week, the lunges and planks, etc. would pay off. I wanted to see if the run would be easier because the preparation had been stronger.

What I discovered was that while I thought my intent was to test my effort, my real intent was to race against myself. This run could have been easier, had I decided to run at the same pace as last year’s course effort. But I didn’t. My mental state changed when the gun went off. The intent was to win. To beat my time. To finish as close to the front of the pack and my AG as possible.

It wasn’t an easy run. In fact, it was really hard. My mind pushed my body farther than I’ve pushed it before. But when my mental coach got my body to the finish line by chanting “give everything you have left…give everything you have left,” I knew without a shadow of a doubt that running is a perfect mirror for who I am. My intent – in everything…physical, professional, familial – is to see where my bar is now, and to see how far I can nudge it forward next time. In giving everything I had left, I found that I had even more. How amazing.

Not a pretty pic, but a happy one. Wraparound self-pix post race with Runner Hubby.

How much does the half mental piece affect the physical piece for you? 


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