If you've run a race, you've been there: the moment when your body would like to give up now, thankyouverymuch, and your brain starts to slip into negativity. (And if you haven't run a race yet, you can expect to be there.) So, when the going gets tough, how can you keep on moving through the struggle? Charlie Dark, Lululemon global run ambassador, has an excellent trick — and his advice is something every runner can use, whether you're setting out on your first 5K or out to add to your collection of marathon medals.
A couple of days before I ran Lululemon's Seawheeeze half marathon in Vancouver, BC, Charlie got together with my group of runners to take us through a simple writing exercise with the power to transform your next running challenge:
- Write down the names of three to five of the most important people in your life. (I didn't clear this with Charlie, but I think beloved pets count. My dog was definitely on my list.)
- If you could only choose one of them, who would it be? Write their name down along with the reason why you chose them.
- Describe that person by writing down the following sentences and completing the prompts:
-If you were a touch, you would be:
-If you were a sound, you would be:
-If you were a smell, you would be:
-If you were a sight, you would be:
-If you were a taste, you would be:
-Today, I run for you because:
- Take the piece of paper you've written this exercise on, fold it up, and put it inside one of your shoes the night before your race.
- In the morning, read the piece of paper again. Then, during the race — in the moment or moments when you find yourself tired, hurting, or mentally spiraling — call to mind that person and the reason you run for them. As Charlie says: "Run toward the people you love."
I tested it out for myself on the morning of the half marathon. With two miles left, I was trying to push for the final stretch, and it was starting to hurt. But I thought of my person — okay, my person was my dog — and just focusing on him put a smile on my face and helped power me over the finish line with a sense of joy and purpose. I'll definitely be breaking out the pen and paper before my next race and putting Charlie's tip to use again.