By Brett Farrell
I’m hiking up a steady incline, haggard, hands on knees, feeling like I can barely move forward.
“WTF is happening to me? Am I sick? Oh shit, is something wrong with me?”
My quads are burning with lactic acid, they feel heavy, lethargic; not a typical feeling this early in a race. I’m getting passed and my mind continues with this sob story that is borderline hypochondriac.
“My body can’t do this.. Why do I try? Why don’t I train more? This is brutal. Why do I even run these races? I never feel this bad. Maybe there is something really wrong with me and I should stop.”
These negative thoughts take over my mind and body like a toxic virus further depleting me of energy, confidence and helpful endorphins.
Then, I remember an old mantra that I used a few times the year before. I dig it out of a back dusty corner of my mind and brush it off. I make a decision to lock it in place while I run, put it on repeat and see what happens.
I begin. With each breath out I say it. It takes over my mind. There is no room for the negative because this is all I am saying.
And in moments, everything will change. Part animal, part machine and only one thing is on my mind;
I am the lion.
( I borrowed this mantra/visualization after seeing this interview (fast forward to 2:50) with Lauren Fleshman years ago)
There have been a few times in my life where I reflect on the mind and its ability to change our place in the world. We have heard it before, “we can be anything we want to be as long as we put our mind to it.”
But come on, that really isn’t true…is it?
Most of the time, I don’t believe the statement. My mind’s autopilot in a low quiet voice is stating, “you can’t be faster, you can’t find time to travel more, you don’t have enough money.”
But the times in my life where I decided to believe that I can do, whatever it is I want to accomplish, I do it.
It is a shift in perspective in how we decide to view our world. It is everything. Our perception is our lens and when we modify it, the world changes around us.
Our biggest threat working against us is the flow of life. It is not working for us- to remind us to say our mantras today, or meditate to build up the powers of our mind and instead it is saying things like; work, make money, take care of our responsibilities, there isn’t enough time!
But what if we did take care of our mind everyday like the ritual that we established when we were children of brushing our teeth? What if we start to believe what we thought was impossible?
My mantra is now on autopilot. I no longer need to remember to say it over and over again. It's just happening and I start to notice something. The people in front of me are getting closer, slowing down.
No wait, I am getting faster.
I keep going, keep reciting.
I am the lion.
I pass one person, another and another.
I am on a ridge now above the clouds and I am ecstatic. A total endorphin rush has kicked in. I am flooded with gratitude, I’m hooting and hollering at my mountain surroundings as I start to descend the rocky ridge.
I finish the race in a time that I believe to be far faster than I would have achieved without that mantra.
What would have happened if I didn’t dig out that mantra? Would the whole race have been a slog?
I can’t know for sure but I am further convinced that the mind has powers over our body that we do not fully understand.
I have heard stories of people who are told they will never walk again that are walking because they meditated on it everyday and Tibetan monks who can raise their body temperatures while meditating in cold environments.
I wish to see the world through a lens that is positive.
I wish to believe that statement we have all heard too much, “we can be anything we want to be as long as we set our minds to it”
It is a matter of putting in the work each day like it is a part of my training or just like brushing my teeth.
Why wouldn’t I try?
After all, when I am alone on a climb and starting to struggle, I’d rather be the lion.
Photo courtesy of Steven Mortinson + Daybreak Racing