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I ran my first race post-baby two weekends ago; the “Rabbit Run“, a 4 mile trail run through the Bangor City Forest sponsored by Epic Sports.  There were about 160 runners and the course started off on a service road with enough room for everyone to jostle for position before we entered the forest and picked up the narrow, winding trail.

I always try to start off smart, i.e., running a little slower so I can warm up and conserve my energy for the miles ahead.  (Race strategy 101, right?  Don’t start off sprinting).  But the collective surge of people streaming past me during those first hundred meters makes me anxious and it’s really hard to keep myself from running faster to keep up.  To keep myself from racing.

But first, to be clear, I don’t actually race.  I have post traumatic stress from my middle school track days.  I ran the finishing leg of the 800 meter relay and during a race, I became sandwiched between two runners as we approached the end.  All of our legs became intertwined but somehow, I was the only one to slide across the finish line on my hands and knees.  I was picking rocks out of my knees and wrists for weeks and could only wear sweat pants to school. (The sight of my mangled legs in shorts would have caused a few precious people to pass out, I’m sure).  Anyway, I don’t race.

What I do do, however, is run faster than I want to during an event.  Seeing the backs of all the runners before me gets that voice going in my head.  You know, that voice.  The voice that, depending on the day, either motivates you to keep going and to bust your ass to keep up with the skinny chick ahead of you, or gets all existential and tells you that running fast is futile and that you should slow down and enjoy the way the sunlight steams through the trees alongside the trail.

That voice can be my worst enemy or it can push me to put one foot before another for just a little longer.  Sometimes that motivating push can feel almost painful because of the effort it requests to keep going.  Other times, that voice threatens to rob me of a longer run.

What about you runners out there, do you have to wrestle with that inner voice on your training runs?  How is that voice different for you on race day?  Also, what role does music play in your runs?  I find that listening to music helps me run faster/farther most times because I can tune into the music and drown out the voice.  But other times the music makes me feel, I don’t know, tired, and I can run longer with just the sound of my sneakers hitting the pavement.  Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.  🙂

Next post I’ll fill you in on my epic journey to locate size 10.5 neutral running shoes for my flattened, post pregnancy feet…

Heartbreak Hill - the ridiculous end to the 4 mile Rabbit Run.

Heartbreak Hill – the ridiculous end to the 4 mile Rabbit Run.