Sometimes when we are out running- whether we are beginners starting out or back at it after a break and we can barely run a block, or whether we are 22 miles into a marathon (or beyond) the going gets hard- sometimes then we find ourselves in a negotiation with our own minds, hearts, and bodies. Maybe your lungs are burning, perhaps your calves are on fire, or you might have gotten to where your energy level is so low and your heart rate is so high that you feel like if you don’t stop you might “die.” I call this the “deal making phase” of running.
When you are out on a run and you begin to feel push back from your self it can get very difficult to keep going. This type of negotiation can feel like trying to reason with an unhappy cat. Perhaps your mind is yelling (or worse) whispering to you, “you’re not a runner. You should just stop.” It could be that your emotions are all over the place. You could feel joy, hope, despair, and sadness all in a five minute period (and that is a lot). And of course your legs might just feel like lead, your gut turned in knots, your heart muscle about to explode or jump outside of your chest. How do you keep going? How do you “not lose heart?”
One of the things we will all do if we get to what feels like the end of ourselves and do not want to quit is to start making these deals. On the road I might say to myself, “if you get to that next phone poll I will agree to slow down or walk.” Sometimes I might say, “just to the top of this next hill and you can drop the pace.” In a race that I was not really prepared for I have said, “if you don’t walk and just finish I will let you eat anything you want.” As I have gotten older I have said things like, “if you let me get through this, body, I promise I will turn off the TV and go to bed early tonight.” The deal making is really quite varied and sometimes strange.
You tend to learn a lot about yourself when you enter this phase of running. The deals can be serious. They can be comical. They can definitely feel embarrassing. Things can come unbidden from the depths that you did not even realize were there. One time on a long trail run (not even a race) I said to my body, “if you just make it up this hill I promise I will ask that girl out!” Who even knows what is buried down deep waiting for some stress to bring it to the surface?
Now the deals you make with yourself out there might be very different from the deals I make with myself. I would not spend much time worrying about what they are. I just want you to know that these things are normal and to be expected. Some of these deals may be great- some may be surprisingly unhealthy. Some may be strange. But just know that you are in good company if you find yourself negotiating with yourself while you are out there running. I would love to hear some other people’s deals if they feel comfortable sharing. Use the comments below. We are not all so weird as we might sometimes think. Be well beautiful people.