It´s All in My Head
I´ve hit a stumbling block in the work area since returning from vacation. It seems that I´m having trouble adjusting not only to the three-hour time change but also to the schedule I´d carved out before we left. I do still wake at five, but only to roll over and fall back to sleep until my daughter toddles in the room around seven-thirty. This means, of course, that I´m getting little to no work done during the early morning hours, which are typically my most productive.
In the meantime, I´ve been training to run a half marathon. As I ran my long run this past Saturday, I hit a wall: I can´t do this, I thought, and I started to slow down. My legs were burning, I was tired, and suddenly I wondered what had possessed me to take on a half marathon in the first place. I´m going to turn 36 the day before the race. Isn´t it time I started slowing down some?
That´s when I began thinking about how running is not just a physical sport, but how it is one of mental endurance as well. I may have known this before, when I ran long distances in the past, but I spent the next few minutes considering how you need not only the physical stamina to pound the pavement for X number of minutes (or hours) at one time, but also the mental strength to tell your body that it can do it, regardless of how much your heels hurt or your lower back aches and you want to give up and crawl the rest of the way home.
Then another thought struck me: running a race is a lot like being a working mother. Working mothers spend their day doing various physical tasks: folding loads of laundry, scrubbing the toilets, cooking dinner, wrestling their children as they attempt to get them dressed or diapered, sitting at a computer to write or fill in spreadsheets, completing necessary paperwork, commuting, standing at a counter or booth for many long hours, and smiling and nodding when they just want to scream.
But in order to do all of the abovementioned tasks, a mother must first get out of bed.
For the rest of that long run, I recited a little mantra whenever I started to feel tired and sore. The mantra was simple. I won´t share it, for fear that it will ruin the effect, but it was something about being able to do what I set out to do. Something about not giving up because the end reward would be so well worth the present effort. When I finished the run, I felt proud that I´d done so without stopping.
The next morning, when I found myself struggling out of bed at 5:30 and even the smell of freshly brewed coffee wasn´t enough to tug me along, I recited my mantra again. Then I visualized sitting down at my laptop in the quiet morning hours and getting some much needed writing done. It worked. Once I was actually at my laptop, I again felt that sense of pride and accomplishment that I´d felt the day before when I´d finished the long run.
So this week I´ve promised myself two things: I´ll continue to pound the pavement with my feet so I can finish this half marathon on the 5th, and I will continue to pound the laptop with my fingers until my work is completed. And when the house becomes messy and I feel a sense of being completely overwhelmed, I´ve promised myself to stop, breathe, and recite my mantra.
Of course, if all of that fails, I´m just going back to bed!