Breaking Through Mental Roadblocks

Growing up, I was one of those kids who dreaded having to take the Presidential Fitness Test. Sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, and rope climbing were not strengths of mine, but I made it through them and achieved acceptable results. And after finishing all those fun exercises, there was the one mile run. ONE MILE! Seriously, I was convinced that the Presidential Fitness Test was trying to kill me. I was the kid at the back of the pack; the one who finished near the end and walked most of the one mile test. Clearly, I was not a runner as a child. I played sports and ran when it was necessary for the sake of the game, but I was more of a short-term sprinter and cringed at the thought of having to run a long distance. Needless to say, this mentality continued throughout my childhood and into early adulthood. I always told people that I’d only run if I was being chased by a bear. This became my running mantra.

Not A Runner

Fast forward to roughly three years ago. I was going through a rough period and found that losing myself in exercise gave me some mental clarity and peace. During this time, a friend told me about a 5k race that she was helping to organize. I decided to support her efforts and my husband and I ran/walked the race while pushing our two girls in a double jogging stroller. I survived the race. Running didn’t actually kill me! I made it past a huge mindset roadblock that day and it was because I had my husband by my side and he believed that I could finish the race. No, I didn’t run the entire time and my race time was horribly slow, but I finished. After that 5k, I started searching for more races. I loved the idea of supporting a good cause while getting in some exercise. I started collecting 5k t-shirts. I was proud of my accomplishments, but by no means did I consider myself a runner. I tried to run for as much of the 5k races as possible, but I always ended up walking at least some portion of the time. I finally ran every step of a 5k at the inaugural This Run is Personal in November 2014. Once again, I overcame a mindset roadblock. This time it was because I had my beautiful little 6 year old daughter by my side, and we encouraged each other as we ran hand-in-hand. We had set a goal to run the entire 5k and we accomplished that goal!

After running in the 2014 This Run is Personal and the 2014 Turkey Trot, I decided to finally join Team CMMD. I still didn’t feel like I was a runner, but I felt drawn to the team. Right around the time I joined the team, information started coming out on Broad Street. Boy did I wish that I was a strong enough or good enough runner to run Broad Street. I could barely make it through 5k races. Ten miles…I could NEVER run TEN MILES! Deep down in my heart I had this tug and I wanted to sign up, but my brain kept screaming NOOOO! Broad Street would be 6.9 miles further than I had ever run. Every part of me that thought I could do it was met with more parts of me that said I couldn’t. I’d never make it through training runs. I’d never cross the finish line on May 3rd. I’d take a bib that someone else deserved more than me. I’d be the slowest person on the course. Could I even keep up with the minimum 15 minute/mile pace?

I was full of self-doubt and every reason why I couldn’t run a ten mile race. I watched as more people posted to the team page about getting their spot. I watched as a post went up about only 150 bibs remaining. I saw the number of available bibs keep going down. I said to myself that I could aim for Broad Street 2016. OK, maybe Broad Street 2017 was more up my alley. Heck, I’d run it someday, maybe. And then it happened. I ran into a friend and we started talking about Broad Street. She was signing up, but I didn’t expect anything less. She’s a runner, unlike me. I told her how maybe I’d aim for Broad Street 2016. Broad Street 2015 was only five months away. What if I wasn’t ready? It is a ten mile race after all. And then there was that pivotal moment. This friend told me that I had months to train, that I could do it. And absolute worst case, I could find someone to take my bib. She believed in me way more than I believed in myself. All of a sudden some of that self-doubt began to be replaced by what-ifs. What if I really can do it? What if I give it a try? What if I make 2015 my first year to run Broad Street? Another mindset roadblock was starting to disappear. This time it was because someone else realized my potential before I could. I went online and registered as a Broad Street runner with Team CMMD. There was no turning back.

Then the self-doubt started to return. I had the strength to register, but did I have the strength to train and run the race? I knew that I had another major mental roadblock to overcome. I needed the strength of the team. I needed help. That was as simple as joining in on group runs; however, I had a few issues to get past first. I am not an early morning person. A group run at 7:00 AM on a Sunday sounded like torture. OK, I’d just have to set five alarms and possibly wear my pajamas to the run, but I could probably make it to a run on time. Alright, I wrapped my brain around waking up early on a Sunday, but when I signed up to run Broad Street, it was December. It was cold outside. I’m not a winter person. OK, I’d have to learn how to layer properly for runs. I’d also need some cold weather gear, but I could probably make this work. However, the most difficult hurdle to overcome was my fear of doing something new for the first time. I was worried that I wouldn’t belong. I was worried that I wouldn’t be accepted. My running pace was seriously slow and the furthest distance I had ever run was 3.1 miles. How was anyone going to want to run with me? Plus, there were weeks that I was going to have to have my kids with me. I’d have a 6 year old by my side and two little ones in a stroller. To me, I didn’t sound like an appealing running partner. Well, after seeing posts week after week about Sunday Runday Funday, I decided that I really should make it a point to attend one. If it didn’t go well, I’d train on my own, but I had to give it a try.

On a Sunday morning in December, my alarm went off and I got out of bed. I threw in some contacts and gathered my hair in a messy poof. I put on clothes that slightly resembled running gear. As I was starting to walk downstairs, my 6 year old came out of her room and asked if she could go with me. Up until this point, I was taking my time. I was hoping that if I took long enough, I’d miss the start of SRF and I’d have to wait another week to try again. But now I couldn’t let that happen. Yet again my mental roadblock was overcome because of my little girl. She was excited to go to SRF. She wanted to meet new people and run. So we went. Everyone was so nice! For the first time I started to feel like one day I could truly call myself a runner. I felt like I was a member of something much bigger than I ever could have imagined. That day I ran. It wasn’t a great run, but it was a run. And I kept coming back. I ran in the cold, in the rain, in the bitterness of winter. I started to make friends. I realized that I had an entire team of cheerleaders in my corner. As others continued to believe in me, I finally started to believe in myself. Members of this team helped me reach the 5 mile mark on a run, then another group helped me to reach 7 miles. I signed up for a 15k and I ran it with a Team CMMD teammate by my side. Now I don’t doubt if I’ll be able to finish Broad Street. I know that I can. It doesn’t matter what my time is or where I finish in the pack. I can be the slowest person out there, but I. WILL. FINISH. I will because I can. I’ll run for those who can’t. I’ll run because not only does this team believe in me, but now I believe in me. Don’t doubt your greatness. Find out how to open up those mental roadblocks and get out there. If you don’t believe that you can run a mile, complete a 5k, 10k, or 15k, make it through Broad Street, or reach your running goals, trust me when I say that you can. Find what works for you. Run, walk, jog, wog, interval, or crawl (OK, don’t really crawl, but you get my point). You will have the strength and support of Team CMMD behind you the entire time and you will accomplish great things.

~ Laine Chidester, Guest Blogger

Leave a comment