Happy Friday brave friends! Today, we’re handing the blog over to one of our original BBP Online Members, Laura! This University of Wisconsin graduate is one of the sweetest, strongest ladies we know! This week, Laura talks about what it’s like to run in a marathon, the importance of strength training to support your running goals, and mental endurance vs. physical endurance. Take it away Laura!
Running a marathon is hard. Harder than anything you can prepare for in training or anticipate before your first. I came to this realization around Mile 18 of last year’s Chicago Marathon when I wasn’t sure how I would be able to take just another step forward let alone keep going for eight more miles. While this wasn’t my first endurance event, I had done a number of triathlons and shorter road races, it was my first of this magnitude. And during the stretch of time from Mile 18 through about Mile 23, it was the lowest I had ever felt during any race I had participated in and I had to dig deeper than I had in any past event.
Reflecting after the race, I came to two conclusions. One was that the mental aspect of the race, which I knew would be tough, was even more challenging than I planned for. The other was without my Brave Body Project workouts, I don’t think I would’ve been able to finish the race.
With the marathon slated for October 15th, I planned to start training at the beginning of June. Unfortunately, about a week before I wanted to start my training, I sprained one of my ankles pretty badly. On the bright side, it didn’t push my training back as far as I thought it would but when I did start training, I started dealing with some knee and hip problems on the same leg as the sprained ankle. I was still able to run and build up some mileage, but long story short, come race day, I had not trained enough as I had wanted to.
This is where the two realizations come into play. Because I was somewhat undertrained, the race was really tough, both physically and even more so mentally. Based on training and previous experiences, I knew it would be hard physically and mentally. I did my best to train as much as I could and I put a heavy focus on preparing myself mentally before the race. I purposely trained on routes that were boring and monotonous in attempt to get myself to that mental place of wanting to stop but having to keep going.
In my opinion, mental strength in sports and exercise is even more important than physical strength. I truly believe that to an extent, anyone can finish anything. However, your mind will want to quit far before your body will give up on you. This proved true for me when at Mile 18 of the race. I didn’t know how I’d keep going, but I crossed that finish line.
I think this is true whether you’re running a race, in a group exercise class or doing anything similar. I believe that you can build mental strength like how you can build physical strength through training and pushing yourself. It’s something that has the ability to grow and change and no one has a set amount or level of mental strength. Just like building physical strength, it takes a lot of work to build mental strength. It doesn’t just appear overnight and it has to be honed, whether you’re an elite athlete participating at the highest level of sport or whether you’re running a race for fun.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of people overlook or underestimate the importance of mental strength. They think you either have it or you don’t, not realizing that it needs to be focused on and trained just as much as the physical body. The marathon really hammered home for me how important mental strength is. You have to give it just as much attention as physical training, or you’re going to struggle similarly to if you haven’t trained your body enough.
Brave Body Project was another tool I used to build mental strength and was also incredibly important in helping me build endurance and physical strength for the race. There were many parallels between the workouts from Brave Body Project and running that helped me prepare for the marathon.
I particularly love the format of the Brave Body Project workouts. With Brave Body Project, each week you’re trying to do a little more than the last week. Whether that’s one rep more or 10 reps more, you’re simply trying to improve yourself and your only competition is yourself. I approach running in the same way that I approach my Brave Body workouts. Simply trying to improve upon myself day after day, focused on myself as the competition.
The Brave Body Project workouts are challenging and test your will to keep going, just like running does. There are many times throughout my Brave Body workouts where I want to throw in the towel and call it a day, but I know if I stick with it a little longer, the end gets closer and I get better. I was able to take mental lessons I was learning from my Brave Body workouts and apply them to marathon training, and I still do this to this day.
While I believe the mental game of working out is incredibly important, it would be silly to overlook how truly important the physical preparation is. You can’t just wing running a marathon. Running is obviously a huge part of the training, but cross-training and strength training are integral parts of training for a marathon and improve the experience drastically. I cannot say enough how much the Brave Body workouts improved my endurance and my strength. Running is not something that comes easily to me, and I was absolutely blown away by how much my running improved by incorporating these workouts. I wasn’t short of breath, my legs felt solid and my overall strength was so much higher than before I started.
On top of that, I had Amber and Lindsey supporting me every step of the way and I could not be more thankful for what Brave Body Project did for me during my training.
Overall, don’t forget about training your mind in addition to your body when doing an endurance event! If you’ve never done a race before, try one out! It can be scary to jump into, but every race is always such a rewarding experience. And if you are getting ready for a race of any kind, look into incorporating Brave Body Project workouts into your routine and prepare to be blown away!
Thanks for sharing Laura! We’re so proud of you. Did you miss Laura’s first blog highjack? Read it here. Want to commit to a program, get real results and change your life? Join Laura and our amazing Brave community by joining the Brave Body Project Online Fitness Membership! Create your username and password and start your FREE 14-day trial today!