The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX


March 23, 2014

SARNO: Looking at your limiting thoughts

HUNTSVILLE — When I first started running, my only goal was to just see if I could finish a run that I had started. I remember the first time I ran from the fire station on Veterans Memorial to the entrance of Elkins Lake, I had to walk seven times.

Now my beginning method was that I could only walk 30 steps and then had to run again regardless of the distance. I tried to listen to every runner I could talk to and read as much as I could, and everything kept coming back to, “On a run of any distance it is 90 percent mental.”

Well, every time I finished a run, it was my legs that were completely drained, not my brain. I was having a tough time figuring this game out.

After a couple of years, I started trying to implement mental techniques in my new endeavor on the roads.

My first run, the Huntsville Half Marathon was a disaster, finishing in 2:45 with a lot of walking. (And it was a lot more than just 30 steps.) I was completely discouraged with the time and thought this might not be for me.

As I continued with my running, my efforts for improvement continued, but meager results caused my frustration and tension levels to increase. My confidence plummeted.

It seemed that the harder I tried, the worse things got. I actually considered quitting altogether. Reading Ken Johnson’s column about all the results from locals in different races, was making me think I would never get my name in the paper for anything other than writing columns.

Seeing Jacob Gautreaux run a Full Marathon in the 3:15 range or reading about Ken running his 100th full led me to believe I would just have to be content with being the turtle in the race of the turtle and the hare.

Then, I came to a turning point.

It dawned on me that it was time to get back to some positive ideas and attitudes that my parents had taught me as a child, like “I can do it.”

I was inspired by words from my mom and dad to try something different, like trying to use some of the mental techniques I had been hearing about for a while but resisting.

I started with something basic, which was to identify and change some negative, obstructing thought patterns which I believed were hindering my improvement.

One of these was, “I can’t seem to get any faster, no matter how hard I try.” (I wanted to change it, but I did not really think I could since I had been so slow in my couple of timed events.)

Instead, I began to say to myself, “I will learn to run faster.” I said it frequently and with conviction until I really started to believe it.

Slowly but surely, positive changes did begin to occur.

That first basic step in using mental running techniques opened up a whole new way of approaching the improvement in my running.

Now I do want to say, Ken your record of 101 marathons or Jacob’s elite times are not in jeopardy, but I at least feel much more of an accomplishment when I cross a finish line than in my first years in one of my chosen sports.

So, when someone tells you about the mental aspect of any sport is important, believe them.

Most veteran athletes will concur with the above, I guess some of us older people seem to be too set in our ways.


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