Mentally Tough

Every night when I go to bed I make plans for the next day and set my alarm clock. I fancy myself a morning person, so I plug in an ambitious time, like 5am, and snuggle into my blankets. But the truth is.. I’m NOT a morning person. So, invariably, what happens is I stare at the ceiling for 4 or 5 hours, worrying about the workout in the morning. There is this argument back and forth about whether I am actually going to get up and go.

“You should do it. You will get the workout out of the way and it’s good for you.”

“But it’s early and I’m tired and I won’t be able to run very far or fast being this tired.”

“But you said you were going to. You told your coach you were going to be there and you don’t want to disappoint him.”

“He’ll understand. I’m the one paying him.”

“He won’t even notice I’m not there.”

“My leg, knee, arm, etc hurts. I think I’m sick. I shouldn’t go. It could do more damage.”

“I’m not hurt. I just don’t want to go.”

4 to 5 HOURS of this. It’s exhausting. By the time 3 or 4am comes around, I just want to sleep. The minute that I change my alarm to a later time, I fall asleep.

Then I wake up in the morning disappointed that I made that decision. And the process starts all over again. I swear that I will get up the next morning and go. I even lay out my clothes and fix my water bottle. I make sure that my headphones are ready and my shoes are in place. But, more times than not, I decide to sleep.

One of the popular arguments in my head is about what people think. This is especially vicious when I am supposed to go swimming. Swimming has always been torture for me. I’ve never been what anyone would call skinny. I like the winter time where I can wear sweaters and jackets and pretend that people don’t see all of the extra that is underneath them. Those layers of clothes are like my layers of protection from the outside world. So taking them all off and putting on the least amount of clothes EVER, that are all tight fitting and unflattering… well, the thought of that is enough to induce a panic attack. It’s not fun. And we haven’t even gotten to the pool yet.

When I get to the pool and under the water, it’s a little bit better, though there is still plenty to worry about. I just, in the last 6 months, learned how to swim with my head in the water. It’s a frightening scene. While I get the theory of what is supposed to happen, I can’t convince my head AND arms AND legs to all work together. It’s terribly complicated and overwhelming. So I end up in the middle of the pool coughing and flailing and positive that I am going to die. People stare. I try not to look at them. But I’m positive that they are looking at me, wondering if I need to be rescued. I just catch my breath, try to swallow the burning in my throat and lungs from all of the water inhaled and start again.

An hour of this is about all I can take before the negativity in my head gets the best of me and I retreat to the safety of the locker room, with the towels and clothes. I try to be positive and congratulate myself for making it that far. It’s farther than I make it some days.

Running is hard too. It’s long and painful. it’s makes it hard for me to breathe. I have problems with asthma to begin with. So things like allergies and stress trigger breathing problems for me. Running just makes it worse. It is supposed to get easier or at least even out over time. I haven’t noticed that it does. It’s painful every time.

What’s even more painful are the thoughts that run through my head while I’m trying to run. My legs can handle a lot. But there is a limit to the negative thoughts that I can combat. And the more tired that I get physically, the less I can combat mentally. It usually falls apart around 3 to 4 miles.

Cycling is the easiest, but still hard. I’m going to compu trainer classes since it is winter and cold outside. It wouldn’t be bad at all, except that they have these mirrors in front of the bikes. Clearly it was NOT a girl who designed this place. Who wants to watch themselves push through a hour long cycling class, with simulated hills and long minutes above threshold? (I’m still a bit uncertain what the whole “threshold” thing is, but I do know that it’s hard, like really hard)

The one thing that I have learned about all of this is that it’s hard. It’s physically hard and mentally hard. If you can get past the mental part, if you can get out of bed and make it to the park/gym/pool/compu trainer class, you usually enjoy the workout. It’s the BEST THING EVER when it’s over. It’s SO much fun to savor the moment and brag about it on social media. I don’t have kids or a hot boyfriend. I have nothing else to talk about.

It’s just getting to that part that is tough.

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