This past weekend I ran the Happy Trails Racing Sticks N’ Stones 10K. I was happy to finally make it to one of HTR’s events after interviewing their Race Co-Ordinator, Heather Borsellino in June.
Somewhere in the middle of the first loop of the course, I hear a kid running with his mom behind me. He’s on the verge of a full blown meltdown.
“But it’s muddy and SLIPPERYYYYYY!” He’s got perfect pitch.
I’m pulled into the conversation, imagining dragging my niece or maybe (scarily) my own children into future races.
The kid’s yelling is taking me out of my own head. I’m not thinking about my legs being tired—I’m thinking about his.
“You said it was a run but it’s a RACE AND I DON’T WANNA RACE!”
"It’s not a race, it’s a run bud. Some people just treat it like a run,” his mom says.
Still, this kid is upset. I can’t blame him. Five kilometres is actually a hundred years in Kid Time.
“It’s a RAAAACE!” He yells back accusingly.
“We’re almost back to the start bud! We’re almost finished. But we have to keep going!”
This was starting to sound familiar.
Many runners have an inner voice that tells them they can’t hack the tough stuff. Jill Angie of Not Your Average Runner calls it the “Inner Mean Girl.” A popular running quote talks about this too:
“The voice inside your head that says you can’t do this is a liar.”
I don’t have that inner mean girl or that negative voice. Sure, I have my fair share of anxieties and doubts BEFORE race day, but in the middle of a run, I’m locked in.
HOW-EV-ER I do spend time on those difficult runs talking to my own version of the negative runner’s voice which, it’s dawning on me, sounds like this kid—
“My legs HURT and it’s so MUDDY and I’M GONNA DIEEEE.”
Exactly like him, actually.
Turns out my negative inner running voice is just a scared and frustrated eight-year-old having a soft nuclear meltdown because he didn’t sign up for this shit (actually he did) and he’s tired and everyone is passing him and he’s pretty sure he’s gonna collapse before he makes it to the finish line. #Relatable
So I learned something new about fine-tuning my positive self talk when the mud kicks up and the run absolutely sucks.
P.S. I ended up heading out for my second loop of the course around the same time the kid and his mom were finishing their 5K. I was so thrilled I got to be there to cheer him across the finish line. He didn’t die, and neither did I.