Every Runner Needs to Find Her Inner Monster

Yosemite Kari-30s
Staying in the shadows while my inner monster contemplates world domination.

Like most little kids, I was afraid of monsters. The Wicked Witch of the West would give me nightmares for days. And don’t get me started on those flying monkeys! I made the mistake of believing my brother when he told me Chuckie was just an ugly looking doll and what bad things could a doll do? I’ll let you cringe at that one for a second….

But, I’ve learned, despite my Gremlin filled childhood, that monsters can be helpful and powerful when used for good and don’t get fed after midnight. And we all have one inside of us, just hanging out, waiting for you to text.

Did you know that each of us runners has one and that if we feed it and nurture it, this little inner beast can help us make our happiest running dreams come true?

Yep. There is a monster, living and breathing in each of us. I like to call mine Stan. And he can come out and huff and puff a little bit or sometimes, much to my surprise, he can roar. Ok, I sound really wise right now, but truth be told, I didn’t know about this whole co-habitation thing until an actually very wise friend let me in on the secret. So I’m paying it forward.

I had been training hard for a big A-race triathlon last year and when it came down to it, I was scared. Scared I wasn’t good enough, fast enough, fit enough. So, on the advice of my actually wise friend, I gave Stan the hall pass to come out and play.

And that’s when Stan had the talk with me. He said “You don’t have to be, because I AM.” And it was decided. Stan would race for me that day. I would put him in the driver’s seat and let him maul down competitors. Seems silly right? Wrong. All the pressure was gone. I wasn’t racing. He was.

I know it sounds ridiculous, and if you keep reading I promise it will make sense.

It took a little work on my part, to get this whole concept to sink in and make a difference. Most importantly I had to believe in it, believe that Stan was with me when we did the work and when we did the training and that he was on point.

Our inner monster, my Stan you’re whatever-you-want-to-call-yours, is an alter-ego. It’s something else to saddle with your expectations, fears, and doubts. It’s also a partner, someone to make you feel less alone in your journey. And quite honestly, at its purest form, its a fiercer, stronger version of yourself. One that we all have, but for whatever reason – fear, shame, complacency – are afraid to be.

When I’m out there and my legs are tired, I think Stan’s legs aren’t tired. When my lungs are screaming, I think,  Stan’s lungs are fine. Call it something fancy like “pain displacement” or something silly like “monster takeover time.” It doesn’t matter how you characterize it, because it can work if you let it.

Stan is decidedly more bad ass than this monster, but this is the only picture of me and a monster that I have. 

So that A-race tri?  Letting out my inner monster worked for me. Really. My usual chatty self (I talk to competitors during the race, a LOT) was more focused on chewing them up. And when the miles got tough, I counted on Stan to quite literally eat up the road.

As with many of these lessons that running teaches us, this inner monster thing has helped me in the rest of my life. I’ve called on Stan to help me fight during this personal battle that I’m waging.  When I’m feeling weak or vulnerable I, you know, let Stan out to bear his teeth and flex his muscles a little! He has helped me find a voice to speak for my best interests. He has helped me plow through tasks that I have dreaded. He has backed down when I needed to feel the weight of the world, and then helped me to lift it. He even helped me to figure out how to set up a new garage door opener. High five, Stan!

I think when we go through tough times, we need more than just the support of our people friends. We need to support ourselves, but it’s not always easy to do that for yourself. Maybe you have never had to do that before. Or maybe this time its just a whole different magnitude. Or maybe your just one of those people that knows how to support everyone but yourself. In that case, having an inner monster like Stan can help you when you need it most.

I am not strong every day. I cannot shoulder the necessary decisions and choices that need to be made. Every Day. That’s when I call Stan. Because I can count on him. Sure yea, it’s still me, I’m not under the delusional impression that some muppet is going to come out of my butt and start barking orders. But when I can focus my energy inward, and picture a vicious beast fighting these battles, it DOES make them just a little bit easier.

So what? Should we all start checking for alien life in our core region? No, we should be taking a TUMS for that. But what we can do is to try a new way to garner strength. Try it for that last mile repeat. Try it for that work presentation. Try it for dealing with the pain of a significant loss.

Do you have an inner monster? 

I’m a transplanted Pennsylvanian who is now running south of the Mason Dixon. I am peeling away my triathlete costume to reveal the single sport athlete who has been jonesing to fly again, by training for my first marathon in about a decade. I always bring dessert to parties, I schedule my fall life around football, I've climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and run miles on 5 continents. I’m hoping my Garmin will help me to navigate life's newest twists and turns and that you will come along on this adventure!

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