I Like Running But… My Brain Doesn’t

Sometimes it seems as though there are two of me.

Me #1 admires the medals hanging on the wall, cheerfully plans races, writes this blog and looks forward to each milestone (literal and figurative) checked off.

Me #2 would rather sunbathe, read a book, ride, clean house, do property chores… anything BUT run.

Me #1 starts each run with relentless determination.  I will accomplish my planned miles and I will run this 50 mile race.

Me #2 runs with irritating caution: refusing to push, to risk injury, to see what can truly be accomplished.


I don’t actually want to get injured again and I don’t have time to mess with rehabbing an injury between now and this race.

But one does not accomplish great achievements by being cautious.  Perfection takes no risks with itself.  In any configuration, that sentiment is simple: to achieve great things, one must take great risks.  In any sport, the best athletes are not the ones who perform cautiously and carefully.  The ones who capture the high scores and the admiration of the world are those who compete as though there is no chance of failure and no tomorrow.

I’m well aware of tomorrow.  It’s there all right.  But it’s going to be there if I run cautiously or if I run hard.

I need to train my brain to work harder.  I know from years past I can run faster than I do – by nearly 3 minutes/mile.  I want those miles and those runs and my brain gets in my way.  It needs to accept that it is merely the passenger on this journey.  My body is holding up well and can take some testing.

Me #2 likes to run at a minimal level of effort.  Barely sweating, breathing pretty easily, not much discomfort.  Sure, it’s nice not to be sore the next day but it would also be nice to blaze through a few runs and see what I’ve really got.

I know part of my resistance to exhaustive effort stems from my law enforcement training: never show weakness.  In the small communities I’ve worked in, I’ve been a highly visible public figure.  People knew who I was and I didn’t need to draw attention to myself.  I didn’t want to sit down somewhere out there to rest and have someone come by and think I needed some help.  We were also trained to not be part of the problem: don’t rush into a situation, get hurt, and need to be ‘rescued’.  Also,  for most races I travel to, I’m on my own and need to drive home quite a distance afterwards.  I can’t exactly exhaust myself and then drive home a few hours.

Yeah, I can rationalize like nobody’s business, but me #1 wants, one time, to give everything I have and see exactly what that means afterwards.


About wfig

Longtime horsewoman and hiker, occasional world traveler and professional biologist.
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3 Responses to I Like Running But… My Brain Doesn’t

  1. Haha says:

    Wow! You are extraordinarily self-aware. The majority of people in this world never come close to knowing themselves the way you do. Thank you for sharing your personal inner struggle. It makes me feel a bit more normal. So…reading between your lines, I guess I could suggest that you could push yourself and exhaust yourself close to home; just to see what happens. You have probably already come to that conclusion. You have already made your decision, regardless of that little part of your brain that wants to second guess the more decided part of yourself. Trust yourself; it always works for you. Perhaps, you don’t have to torture yourself so much with the second guessing? You decide what race you will run…or not. We believe in you, we support you, and we love you. No extreme acts needed:)

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