Strength Is A Mindset: Sickness and Long Runs

I think it was on the Billy Yang podcast with Hillary Allen where I first heard this. Strength is a mindset.

Actually, many things could be considered a mindset.

Courage. Confidence. Toughness.

It’s all how you think about it. Priming the body for success begins with priming the mind.

In my experience, it is only when, in addition to warming up my body, I warm-up my mind as well that I have the best workouts, long runs or races. During my 15-20 minute easy jog, I also convince myself of a few things:

1.) I can run at my current fitness

2.) I choose to run here today

3.) If I miss the mark I am aiming for, nothing bad will happen

These things release the pressure, but also give me an energy, a strength that both relaxes my nerves and gets me jazzed to run.

If those things still aren’t giving me the mojo, I simply give myself the chance to be successful.

Sometimes that means just showing up. Sometimes that means starting at a fast pace and trusting I can handle it. Sometimes that means taking it easy and living to fight another day. However, you’ve got to start. However cliche it may sound, you really do miss all the shots you don’t take.

The way I prime my mind gives me my strength.

This morning I woke up after a restless night of sick-induced sleep. I have a bit of a head cold and ironically, the worst of it happens when I am trying to sleep. Running actually helps me clear my passages. Waking up 10 times during the night because I cannot breathe did not make for an ideal long-run morning. I knew I was sick, so my priming was geared toward doing what I could do:

1.) I can start the run and end it early

2.) I can just do the workout part

3.) I can just run it all easy

My strength at this point was seeing how i felt and deciding on the run. I released myself of the pressure to do it perfectly. My strength was listening to my body while still seeing what I was capable of. I never completely bag it (or well, that’s never my choice), I tell myself to just start.

The first 45 minutes (this was a 2 hour workout) went fine. I was able to clear out my system and was breathing better. The next 15 minutes were also easy paced, but I felt my energy waning. Then I started bargaining. I told myself to just start the marathon paced portion (30 minutes) and stop if I couldn’t hold the pace.

Surprisingly, I felt alright and my lungs were not completely taxed. I maintained my pace for the whole duration even when it got hard. When it got hard this time, I knew it was not due to my sickness, but to the fitness that I do not have yet, but am trying to build with these workouts. The last 10 minutes were tiring, but I pushed. I knew I wasn’t losing anything and it is here that my marathon goals will come to fruition.


The last 30 minutes of the workout were easy, just mentally tough as staring at a white wall running on a treadmill can be. However, I did feel the accomplishment and the last miles were simply to build mileage for my legs.

Long run: done. Strength: built.

Not bad for a sick day’s work.

Ellie Pell