I had an interesting run yesterday. I was supposed to do some speed work, which normally wouldn’t be a big deal, but it had been two weeks since my last interval session and, as you know, I’ve been struggling a bit with my training recently. As I hopped on the treadmill, not exactly thrilled about what I needed to do, I asked myself whether I wanted to run my first interval slightly slower, to ease into things, or if I wanted to dive right in and trust that I could do all five reps at my usual pace. Something within told me to just go for it.

Since writing about the ups and downs of my recent relationship with running, I’ve been trying to make a greater effort to follow my own advice. On this occasion, the goal was to listen to my body rather than drown it out with music or other distractions. I had my ipod with me because I can’t survive the treadmill otherwise, but I didn’t use the music to dissociate, which is all too easy to do. Rather, the music was more like white noise, muffling the other sounds around me so that I could focus entirely on my own workout.

I’m really into using psychological techniques to push myself, as you may have read in some of my other posts, because they have worked well for me in the past. I am particularly fond of when I realize that I’m in the midst of a spontaneous, new mental exercise, which is what happened yesterday morning. I’ll try to explain my thought process, and hopefully won’t sound like a complete nutter in doing so.

While halfway through my first interval, I found myself thinking about the “Running” character I created. I imagined that “Running” was a real person on the treadmill beside me, morphing into various runners and non-runners in my life who inspire and motivate me. They each took turns sprinting by my side, commenting on how I felt and pushing me to each interval finish.

By the fourth interval, “Running” suddenly became less of an actual figure and more of an idea, a faint reflection in the glass in front of me. As I stared blankly ahead, my legs growing heavier with fatigue, my mind kept gravitating towards the word Trust. The word repeated over and over again in my head with every other step as I looked at my reflection – Trust. Trust. Trust. Trust.

It’s a very powerful and loaded word – particularly, I believe, when you’re talking about trusting yourself, whether in the context of running or any other challenges you face in your life. Having faith that you can attain your goal, get through a tough situation, or whatever else you are grappling with is crucial to succeeding. It often takes time to genuinely trust in your abilities, but even saying the words “Trust” or “Faith” to yourself when you’re struggling can help you in the process. It worked for me, at least.

Without actively thinking about any of this, “Running” suddenly asked me, “Do you trust me?” I hesitated but then replied, “Yes.” But this only prompted a more pressing, “DO YOU TRUST ME?” I felt an incredible energy surge through my body. “YES. I DO. I TRUST YOU. I TRUST YOU” I looked at the clock – only one more interval to go. I watched my hand increase the pace.

“Good. Let’s do this.”