I love reading inspiring books about amazing runners and their incredible journeys. I was first intrigued by a book called Born to Run, which talked about the Tarahumara tribe, also know as the running people. Then I wanted more, so I purchased Scott Jurek 's book Eat and Run. His book discussed his whole life story, from his childhood of constantly doing work, to competitive skiing, to the beginning of his running career, and his transition from the standard American diet to becoming a healthy vegan. His book inspired me to become vegan for my running, and my health. Reading his book was life changing for me.
Now, I am am currently working my way through a book called Running on Empty, which is an amazing story about a man named Marshall Ulrich, who at 57 years old ran 3,063 miles across America in only 52 days. This man is amazing, and has taught me that running is without a doubt 95% mental. His journey and story are so inspiring, and I would recommend his book to any runner who loves reading amazing stories about how people overcome great life challenges.
In one of the chapters of his book, Marshall list the Ten Commandments of Running, or as some like to call them, "Marshall Laws". I found them to be very helpful, and figured I would share them.
The Marshall Laws
1. Expect a journey and a battle
2. Focus on the present and set intermediate goals
3. Don't dwell on the negative
4. Transcend the physical
5. Accept your fate
6. Have confidence that you will sucede
7. Know that there will be an end
8. suffering is okay
9. Be kind to yourself
10. Quitting is not an option
I have adopted a lot of these rules in my last few months of running, and try to read these often to keep them in my mind. I feel that it takes time to mentally train yourself as a runner to be tough. Toughness doesn't just come naturally to everyone. And although it comes easier to some more than others, anyone can build up enough mental toughness to finish a marathon if they want to.
One of the things I read in Running on Empty that I found to be the most interesting, is that Marshall was scientifically tested, and his pain thresh hold and physical abilities weren't any greater then most people's... he actually was rated as physically average. What does however make his stand out, is his ability to distract himself mentally, and his ability to control his thoughts. Scientists measured his brain waves, and concluded that he scored off the charts for his imagination. Marshall admits in his book that often times on long runs, he becomes completely distracted with his thoughts about anything and everything, and running just becomes a natural motion while his mind drifts off somewhere else. I have experienced this before, but only for a few minutes or so, and it really is incredible. When you get so wrapped up in your thoughts that you go somewhere else for a while, and by the time you come back you realize you have just ran almost another half of a mile without even realizing it or thinking about it.
I suppose that is the key to running, not only being able to focus on positive things, or other things and let your mind drift, but to have mental toughness as well. On almost every run I have done, whether it be 3 miles or 12, ideas of slowing down, walking, and even quitting have entered my mind. However, whenever these ideas pop up, i never really consider them, I just kind of think about what it would be like if I did actually throw in the towel and go home... then I keep on running.