To Do List: Buy Bananas, Motivate New Runners

It's amazing how a t-shirt and some bananas can kick off a conversation about the ego.
It’s amazing how a t-shirt and some bananas can kick off a conversation about the ego.

I needed bananas, so I stopped by Whole Foods on Tuesday. I thought I’d simply run in, grab what I needed, and get out before being tempted to buying anything else. Instead, I found myself chatting with a woman near the fish counter about her exercise routine. (She noticed my t-shirt—a little black number promoting butt-kicking New York City fitness studio As One.)

When the topic turned to running, she said, “I’d love to be a runner, but I don’t think I can do it.” It’s a typical mental pattern that afflicts runners and non-runners alike. (How many times have you talked yourself out of trying something new?)

That little voice inside of you that says, “But I’ll look stupid,” and asks, “What if I fail?” is your ego—a powerful thing that uses fear to keep you from pounding the pavement. Fear is a pretty darn convincing tactic, but it doesn’t have to stop you. To calm her ego, here’s what I suggested to the woman in grocery store:

Ask yourself three questions Do I believe that I can’t run? Is it really true that I can’t run? Am I going to let these false thoughts hold me back? The answer to all of these should be a resounding, NO! If you can put one foot in front of the other, I promise, you can run.

Acknowledge the fear and go for it The anxiety that you feel before running for the first time is real, and it’s normal. But that shouldn’t hold you back. Just tell your ego, “This is scary, but I’m going to do it anyway.” Say it out loud if it makes you feel good—I do it every time I line up for a road race!

Give yourself a physical out It’s OK to walk when you get tired during a run. In fact, there’s an entire method built around run-then-walk that has been used successfully by thousands of marathon finishers. (Google “running coach Jeff Galloway” for proof.) Plan to run for one minute, walk for two, and then repeat. This will get you (and your ego) started on a healthy new path!

What gets you up and running ? Has your ego ever gotten in the way of your goals?  

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

I missed by bedtime last night because I was gabbing on the phone with a friend of mine who had spent the day giving birth (Baby Ashley, I’m so happy you’re finally here!). Not a bad reason to put off a date with Mr. Sandman. But when I did manage get under the covers, I had a really hard time falling asleep. The shut-eye came eventually and so did some very weird brain activity: I dreamt that my legs didn’t work.

In the dream, I was standing in a race corral wearing baby pink sneakers and a garbage bag, wondering if it was going to rain. I heard a gunshot and the people around me took off running. But I just stood there. I couldn’t move. I tried to lift my right foot, but it was unbelievably heavy. In a panic, I reached down and tried to tug it out in front of me. Then I tried the left, but it wouldn’t budge either. I looked up again and could see the other runners fading into the distance ahead.

I woke up in a pool of sweat.

Anxiety dreams during taper week are totally common—at least that’s what NYC running coach and former Olympian John Henwood once told me. He says his clients have all kinds of fears in the days leading up to a marathon: What if I forget how to run? What if I break my leg going down the subway stairs? I sneezed this morning; do I have pneumonia? As funny as they sound, they can really mess with your head.

When I stepped out of my apartment to run this morning, a touch of apprehension slipped in and I was concerned that my legs might feel like lead. What if the dream (nightmare!) had an ounce of reality? A few strides later I was breathing easy and laughing at myself. I really need to relax.

Countdown to the Boston Marathon: 6 days!

Have you ever had the dream where your legs don’t work? What do you do to ease anxiety?  

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.