Mid-Week Musings: What Has Changed

I’ve been asked recently what I attribute my newfound speed to and I can think of many things.

I quit my job. I cross train. I strength train. I respect the recovery. I eat better. I drink my vitamins. I drink a ton of water. I sleep.

But really, I think the biggest thing that has changed is my mentality.


It’s not secret that running is hugely mental. And I feel like I’d had a mental block when it came to how fast I could run. My husband would tell me all the time that he knows I have an XX 5k and an XX half marathon in me if I just believed in myself and stopped being intimidated by fast paces.

Anytime I would see my husband’s splits and see all 8s, I would tell him to slow down, that he didn’t need to run fast all the time. He would tell me, “It’s perspective. Eight may seem fast for you, but it may not be for someone else.”

Then I got injured and didn’t run for a while. I cross trained and strength trained. In the midst of my injury, I quit my job. And before I knew it, my 6 week running hiatus was over.

I was ready to run again.

Maybe it was being reinvigorated after taking a break, maybe I was finally listening to my husband, but after a couple of weeks of being back to running, I went out for what I thought would be a regular 4 miler that turned into this:


February 4th, 8:08/mile

My splits were–8:18, 8:07, 8:08, 7:59!

I remember running inside my house, freaking out, excited to show my husband. And all he said was, “I always knew you could.”

But I didn’t. In fact, the day before, I wrote this!

I don’t know but I feel like after that run, I truly started to believe that I could repeat those paces. I started to believe that I could improve as a runner when for so long, I thought maybe I had “peaked”.

When I ran FroYo 10k, I ran it believing in myself that I could do 2 more miles at the breakthrough 4 miler pace I had done 10 days before. And I did, averaging an 8:02 pace for that race and snagging a new PR.

It made me reevaluate my 1/2 marathon goal for Phoenix. I am not lying when I say that I NEVER thought I’d break 1:50. But I let myself think crazy thoughts, lol! I let myself believe that yeah, 8 minutes per mile is fast, BUT I can do it.

I’m not saying other factors aren’t instrumental–I do think cross/strength training has helped immensely–but I can say with certainty that the first step in improving, in anything, is believing that you can.


–Do find yourself thinking you can’t do things? What do you to help yourself break through?

26 responses

  1. That quote you posted on Instagram hooked me immediately. Stepping forward into growth almost ALWAYS smarts a little, or maybe even a lot. That’s why none of us do it because pain of any sort freaks us out. This makes me think of what I learned about growth on a muscular level. When we say, lift weight at the gym, we are actually micro-tearing our muscle fibres. We are literally injuring them, causing them pain, on a tiny level. And when they heal, they heal bigger, like how a scar on our knee puffs out a bit. Pain can cause growth, and so we shouldn’t be so afraid of it, which brings me to fear. Fear is the cockblocker of dreams. Abolish fear, welcome pain, and run your cute little ass off. You inspire me always, whether or not you’re clocking 5 hour marathons or 8-minute miles.

  2. Such a great post, Helly! Why is it so hard to believe in ourselves sometimes? What a great support your husband is and even better that you are seeing that you are capable of running fast. It’s a great life lesson that translates well outside of running.
    I totally fall into the trap of thinking I can’t do something. Whether it’s running a certain distance or hit a certain pace, I let a lot of self-doubt creep in. My husband is my biggest cheerleader and has really encouraged me to believe in myself more. Once I do hit whatever goal I thought was out of reach, it goes a long way in helping me feel more confident with future hard goals.

  3. This was so important for me to read. As I take this year to truly focus on increasing my speed, there are some things I need to adjust. For me, the mentality is there. But now it’s time to work on the other stuff you mentioned: the cross training and weight lifting, better eating, better hydration, etc.

    I’m so glad everything is clicking for you. It’s really fun to watch your improvement!!

    • Yes, I’ve def committed myself to cross/strength training this year. The HARDEST thing for me is nutrition. I think seeing the progress I’ve made because of the other stuff is helping me get motivated to tackle eating healthier and staying on track.

  4. Girl, I love every single thing about this post. Yesterday I was doing speed work in hot Florida and in the last few intervals I almost broke down. I walked for a few and then I thought about race day. I knew if I quit I would be disappointed in myself. You are so right, you have to be uncomfortable. You need to learn that you can push yourself to the limits and be okay. Great post and so proud of your progress!

    • Yes, I’m totally in the “get comfortable being uncomfortable” mode. In my PR half, I was feeling so good up to mile 10 that I told myself, “Make it hurt, Hell”. I never have said that to myself before, lol!!!

  5. This is so awesome! I’m starting to wonder if my injury is part mental – whenever I try to run I feel great but feel “something” afterwards that causes me to be afraid to go out again. I truly did get majorly injured in October and re-injured back in February, but I’m thinking that taking a more relaxed and less structured approach to recovery might take off the pressure and allow me to do what my body wants and needs. When I feel like I “should” be able to do something because other people recovered from injury quickly I’m really just setting myself up for failure and stress!

    • I think it’s def more challenging after an injury because there’s always that fear of getting hurt again. I still feel that way too. Any ache or pain, I panic, but then I trust that I’ve been doing everything I’m supposed to. And if I’m worried, I’ll take an extra day off or do cross training instead.
      But don’t compare yourself! Your injury is yours. People recover differently and I promise you, your confidence will come back! ❤

  6. so glad i’ve started reading your blog, and this is such an inspiring post. so happy for you that you’ve made a breakthrough in your thoughts about running that has then affected your physicality as well! it’s definitely such a close relationship between the body & mind and this is a good reminder that we CAN push ourselves (as runners) to achieve new goals that seemed insurmountable.

  7. As soon as I stopped telling myself I couldn’t do things, or that pace was “too fast” for me was when I got faster. I am proof of this – my first marathon was a 4:53 and now the goal “sub 3” is in my vocabulary. I am nothing special. But I don’t let anyone tell me I can’t do things, and when I want something badly enough I will get it – I will work as hard and as honest as I have to to achieve goals. That’s my mentality with anything, and it goes a long way with running. I can tell that you have that same sort of mentality, and you are just scratching the surface of what you are capable of! You are an incredible athlete and I know those sub-8s that you are starting to see are going to become a regular pace for you. Though I don’t work with my coach anymore because it was not helping my speed, he had a lot of really motivating insight. I remember when he would prescribe workouts with paces that I considered a real reach. I remember doing one and succeeding and telling him I couldn’t believe I was running that pace. He said, “Why? That IS your pace. Why do you doubt that?” So now, even though I am coaching myself, I do tell myself before a hard workout that I can do it because this IS my pace. Those 8s you are seeing, the sub 8s – that IS your pace now! And sure, we will all still have bad days where 11 minute miles feel like 5 minute miles, but that’s where your awesome mentality will keep you moving forward.

    • First, you are definitely something special. Second, I definitely don’t think I’ll ever be as fast as you but your first marathon time gives me hope that I’ll be faster (for me).

      What your coach would tell you is what my husband tells me ALL. THE. TIME. Always. “Helly, that IS your pace!” It just has taken me some time to get used to, lol!

      You should coach me.

  8. SO MUCH of running is mental for me. I’ve always liked the quote “The only thing holding you back is you,” and I think that definitely applies here. I’m so glad that you have had this shift in your way of thinking, and I can’t wait to see what you achieve this year 🙂

  9. Whew, you have made a ton of positive changes for your running this year (I think you forgot to mention your shiny new garmin, am I right? 😉) but that’s so true about your own mental perception of your abilities making all the difference. I am excited to follow your journey this year; I’m sure you’re going to continue to crush PRs and exceed expectations!