My Experience with Mental Health in Running, by Weber Long

Hey guys, I finally got around to writing another article, I’ve been slacking off a little with this, but I’m back.

Anyways, as I’m sure you saw by the title, this time I will be writing about my experience with what I think is the most important part of any sport: mental health, and more specifically being able to believe in yourself and your own abilities.

To start off, I just want to go straight to the point and say that God will never put you through a battle that you can’t win. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult for you, or that it won’t test you. For a long time I just simply didn’t understand this, and I didn’t have the confidence to be able to push myself to my best.

A great example of this would be the East Coast Invitational 2 mile race. It was a huge PR, from 9:52-9:35, but I still didn’t have the confidence to be able to push myself harder than I did that day. I for sure held back, because I was scared of what might happen if I pushed too hard and it didn’t work well for me. 

Fast-forward a few months, and it’s a rainy, miserable day at the state meet at Shippensburg, PA. On the line for the 3200 race, I wasn’t thinking about much other than being able to get out fast and get into a good position. But, with 4 laps to go, Gary made a big move, putting a gap on the field, and when I realized nobody was going to go with him, I decided to try and push myself to go catch him. Over the course of a few months, my mindset changed dramatically, from not wanting to try and catch someone in front of me, to trying to catch one of the best runners in the nation.

So, what changed? What happened that made me want to chase down someone who I had never beaten in a competitive race? Well, the honest answer is, there is no one thing that gave me that confidence. It was months of work, and knowing that I could push my body past what I thought its limits were, knowing that if I pushed a little bit harder, then I could do something I’d be proud of for a long time. And I did, and I am proud of how I raced that day. It was the most gutsy performance I’ve ever run, and I’m not afraid to say that we came through halfway and I already wanted to stop, because that pace hurt. I managed to get through and it worked well, which made me understand that sometimes being afraid of pushing harder isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a bad thing when you can’t push past that fear.

To cap this all off, I’ll talk a little about my sophomore “season”, if you will. I ran time trials all that spring, and I had to stop two weeks before states would have normally happened, so I was physically and mentally drained that season from running alone in all of my hard efforts. Plus, running in an empty stadium can’t even come close to running in a full stadium with everyone cheering. The motivation that I had this season was very different from last season, mainly because I wanted to see what I could do, and how I could improve. Now I know those things, so this upcoming year should be better than the other years.

From the state 3200m finals, about half-way through, you can see how much I ‘m hurting