I have a secret. When I break free from the confines of grad school and take to the track, I transform from a mid-packer to an elite. I treat tempo runs like a day at the office. It is my job. I’m getting paid for it, after all: I’m sponsored. Wait… Aren’t you in law school?
You caught me. In reality, I’m slightly above average at best. But in my imagination, I’m a lot faster. This fun mental trick has helped me approach running with a childlike perspective. My colorful imagination took me so many places as a child, and thankfully, running gives me an opportunity to use it again!
On the trails, my ponytail flies wildly behind me as my sinewy legs power me up the hills. My perfectly trained core assists me on those mountainous ascents because I train at altitude in Colorado, obviously. 8 minute miles become my easy pace instead of my tempo pace. In my imagination, I run with all of the effortlessness exuded by the elites.
The inspiration for my running alter-ego comes from a saying of my beloved high school band director, who taught me that to achieve success in anything, you must finesse your performance. Just like professional dancers, actors, and singers make their respective disciplines look effortless, elites have that graceful form that makes running look so simple. When I imagine that I have a graceful form, my form does get better. When I think faster, I get faster. Do you remember my post on positive manifestation? This is another flavor of willing oneself to achieve a goal.
Obviously I’m not willing myself to be elite, but I am willing myself to be better than I am now. And better does not necessarily mean faster. Better means diligence, patience, practice, and pushing myself. I make more time for yoga and strength training. I make a little extra time for rest. (Because I’m getting paid to run, duh). Instead of approaching workouts intimidated by what’s on paper, I see what I can do as Elite Bergie. Super Bergz! When I step away from the seriousness of training, it almost becomes easier. My imagination has helped me break a mental barrier I didn’t even know existed. This year I achieved a big half PR, and more importantly, hit and held tempo paces I never thought possible while training. I used my imagination and ended up challenging my real self.
I have no hopes of being an Olympian, and I doubt I’ll ever win a marathon. However, my running alter ego may help me get there one day.
Do you have a secret running alter ego, too? Does your alter ego help you achieve goals you never thought you could?