Breaking the First Mental Block

Ages ago I wrote about how I first started running. This is the next installment in an occasional series of my running history.

So . . . we signed up for a race. The Great Aloha Run in Honolulu. Eight-plus miles of fun and games, provided we didn’t puke halfway through. We begged a training plan off a friend of Micah’s and got to work. The first challenge was the “long run,” in our case, a 4-miler. Our normal route around the neighborhood was a little less than 3 miles, although it could vary if there was a big dog off its chain or a group of scary looking men at the end of the road. We could handle 3 miles. But 4? That was a loooonnnggg run.

But it had to be done. That race wasn’t going to run itself. On the Saturday of the scheduled 4-miler, we mapped out a route. We would run from our place in Hauula, up then follow the ocean along Kamehameha Highway to Laie, run around Laie a little bit, then head back down the highway to a beach park where our church was having a shindig. There, we would celebrate. We would enjoy the breeze, the water, the sound of the ocean. We would stretch our weary legs. We would replenish our depleted energy stores. And with that as our goal, we laced our shoes, did some pre-run stretching, and away we went.

I followed behind Micah since he knew the route better than I did. He kept close so he didn’t lose me. We made it to Laie, then ran down one street after another, and each time I thought we would turn back on to Kam Highway and head for the beach park. At one point I’m pretty sure I nearly started crying when Micah turned away from the highway one more time. My feet hurt and I couldn’t fathom going any farther. When we did turn onto the highway again, I was relieved. Things got easier. We were almost done. Almost there. Just a little farther. We could see it. Aaannnddd  . . .  stop.

Four miles. We’d done it. High fives were exchanged. We caught our breath. And as soon as we did, we couldn’t stop talking.

“We just ran four miles,” we told anyone. Anyone at all. We mumbled it to ourselves when no one was close enough to hear. “Four miles. We just ran four miles.” They were all impressed, astounded, amazed. (We should have expected as much from a crowd who couldn’t see why anyone would walk the quarter mile to church if their car was working.)

“We’re training for a race,” we’d follow up with. “It’s 8 miles.” I’m pretty sure we took off our shoes and showed off our blisters as well. Who cared? We’d run four. whole. miles. We were rockstars. We could do whatever we wanted. We rode that wave for days, weeks even. The next week when we did a 5-miler, it was a piece of cake. We’d broken a mental barrier. If we could run 4 miles, we could do anything.

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  1. I love it, Lizzie! It’s funny, I’m mentally getting ready to start working out again and particularly running and I feel like I have to overcome that mental barrier again. It feels a little ridiculous after being a marathoner in the not-too-distant past, but running any distance seems like a big deal at the moment. Thanks for the story to help get me going. I can run four miles too!


    lizzie Reply:

    I am eager to hear how it goes and how long it takes before you feel comfortable with long distances again.


  2. breaking three miles was the barrier for me. i still have never run more than 8, but i’m pretty sure i could. right? eventually anyway.


    lizzie Reply:

    You totally could. I think you should try a half-marathon. It’s a great distance. Says the lady who has only run one half-marathon, so take it for what it’s worth.


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