What does it take to consistently perform well in racing events over a span of months or even years? Fitness and running expert Julie Stackhouse (Stackhouse Fitness) shares what she believes has been her secret to success: mental toughness.
People always ask me what I attribute my success in running to. Is it hard work? Yes. Dedication? Definitely. The muscle that I attribute my real success in the sport to; however, is my mind.
This past August I raced for Rethreaded in a unique charity event in Connecticut called Hell on the Hill 3. Picture the meanest, most unforgiving grass hill that you can imagine (none of this particular sort exists in Florida). 100 reps up and down this hill for a total of 8 miles was the challenge. Mine? To conquer The Hill and set a new course record. For me, the tougher the course and the greater the challenge, the more I love it. In fact, I seek it out. When I was first invited to this event I got so excited I must have studied the prior year’s video footage of the race dozens of times. I calculated angles and sought out the most similar hill that I could find to train on, using stadiums when necessary. I visualized myself on that hill running fast and feeling stronger with each repetition. As it turns out, nothing I trained on came close to pitch of The Hill. But you know what? I was ready, because I’d already decided that no matter how tough it was, I was going to finish the 100 reps as fast as I possibly could, exacting the strategy I’d practiced for that day.
What I’ve learned about myself through winning multiple half marathons, marathons, a 140.6 Ironman full distance triathlon and especially Hell on the Hill is that it’s what you do when things get tough that really counts, because running, at some point is going to get tough. Whether you’ve set the goal of slaying the “Green Monster” or finishing your first marathon, I’m not here to tell you that it’s going to be easy. You can train your mind though, just as you can train your body. The best part about racing to me is the thrill that comes from shattering perceived barriers and successfully accomplishing the goals you’ve set for yourself, possibly even leaving a road, a trail, a hill or hearts ablaze in the process.
Run happy, my friends. Run tough. See you at the next race!