When you are running a race or simply just out for a few miles, there is a competition between your mind and body. One is telling you to stop while the other is telling you to go. It is a battle of will and every step you take you are fighting against your weakness, your desire to quit, or that sudden pang in your side. That battle is one of the reasons I love to run. Because I could spend miles thinking “I can’t do this”, but there comes triumph in that moment you cross finish line and you can finally say, “I did this”!
The Germans have a word for that voice in your head, the voice that tells you, you can’t do this and you’re not strong enough. That word is Schweinehund, translated it simply means Pig-dog. 🙂 Your Schweinehund is what follows you around quietly and sometimes you forget it is even there, but then it shows its ugly face the moment that you are challenged. The more you are challenged or the more you begin to have self-doubt, it gets bigger and bigger. It chases you down until it is riding on your back. Sometimes it feels as if the weight of that Schweinehund is just too much, that you’d rather quit, give up, and don’t go any further. But that’s what it wants!!
We must continue to push through all the self doubt and hesitations. Once we are able to do that, we come out on the other side a much stronger individual. It’s hard, especially on those days when you’re just “not feelin’ it”. Many times during a race and training even, I have let my Innerer Schweinehund get the best of me. It takes practice to figure out how to control it and keep it at bay.
(As long as you don’t bother it, it will leave you alone. As soon as you decide to do something it doesn’t like, it will get bigger and bigger….and seems to control us. We overcome it and realize how good it feels to meet our goal but the closer we get to our desire, the stubborn Schweinehund still follows)
Here are a couple things I have found that help me:
- Look back and try to think of the shear number of miles you have ran. It’s crazy! Seriously! If you added up the number of miles you have run in training for a race, it could easily be more than what some people have done in their lives! Applaud yourself for that.
- Everyone has an “off day”…..EVERYONE! As much as I’d like to think I’m perfect, I’m far from it. We will have those days, that runny nose, that crampy quad or slow pace. It happens.
- There are things out of your control like crazy humidity, freezing rain, ice on the course and so forth. You may have big plans for race day but some things are simply out of your control. Don’t blame yourself for those things.
- Give yourself a smaller “target/goal”. Sometimes we get stuck on the thought,’I’ve got 8 more miles left.’ You start to feel this is never ending. I have found it helpful to pick a landmark up ahead that I can see (a stop sign; house on the corner; blue truck). Then I tell myself, you have to make it to the “blue truck”, you can’t stop until you reach “the blue truck”. I repeat that over and over till I get there and 9 times out of 10 I don’t want to stop anymore! Or, I simply find I new landmark to be my goal. Usually after a couple times of doing this, I am reminded of how awesome I am and keep pushing through!!!
Whatever your Innere Schweinehund tries to tell you just remember this, MEIN INNERER SCHWEINEHUND KANN MICH MAL!!