I ran my second trail run event today at Mt Crawford but it was the first one that I ran with expectations and with a Garmin. The first trail run I competed in was so exhilarating it took me two days to come down! This one though was fairly flat yet felt so hard. My mind bullied me because it was ‘only 8km’, and my pelvic floor failed me big time. No doubt it was a victim of a few weeks of bronchitis and minimal strengthening work.

The first two kilometres were hard, fast and downhill and I was at the front with the speedsters until I realised I was going to tank if I kept that up. When I heard a woman approach behind me and soon to overtake I mentally noted that I was going to let her do that, and she was going to be my tether. She was for awhile until my mind digressed and I wondered why I traveled over an hour to run 8km through cold mud, in the rain to put myself thought this struggle. My lungs were bursting, I felt tired and my mind fought the suggestion to walk. I relented. Twice.

Somewhat unusually my mind told me my running was ‘not good enough’ and I could do better (meaning run ‘faster’). But this was my best today. To quieten this voice I encouraged myself to look at the lovely scenery and stop thinking and just do.

Just. Breathe.

Just. Run.

I ran.

Through mud, forest and a bit of rain. With a random hotchpotch of people in funny looking outfits. With 1km or so to go I heard the unmistakeable sound of a mother encouraging a child. “Keep it up, keep going….”

“Don’t listen to your body it’s tricking you- you can do it”. “Excellent work you are doing so well!” I pretended she was talking to me and my legs picked up speed. My brain ticked over into ‘do it mode’. I saw a kid who looked all of 8-9 years old over take me, encouraged my his Mum who also slipped by, seemingly coasting along and able to speak without breathing heavily.

I followed them as his mother continued to praise and encourage her son’s efforts and point out how close they were. The last 300 metres or so was a steep incline. I looked up from my trudging and saw the last three people who’d passed me and they were slowing. I saw the finish and felt that inexplicable primal drive as I picked up the pace and picked them off one by one, pushing and pushing to the finish, and trying not to vomit once I’d crossed it. I found the Mum later and thanked her for her coaching which I had borrowed!

So I learned a few things today, about expectations, the ineffectiveness of self bullying, and sometimes all we need is some mothering, even if that is from a random stranger or ourselves.

By Michelle Sutcliffe.