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Life Lessons on Display at Mankato Marathon
Cindra Kamphoff described the Sport Psych Team she helped organize to help runners in the Mankato Marathon.
Cindra Kamphoff, For the Mankato Free Press, 10-28-2012
Instead of running in the Mankato Marathon last weekend, I was on a bike. I helped organize a Sport Psych Team, sponsored by UCare, that provided runners with the mental tools and motivation they needed to be successful in the race. It’s the only “mental team” connected to a marathon that I know of in the United States, and it was fun to be a part of something that no one else is doing. About 20 of us were at the Expo, at the start of the race and all along the case as “Psychs on Bikes,” providing runners with advice and motivation.
In order to provide athletes with the right mental tools to help them be at their best, we had to talk with them. And that gave us the opportunity to hear their stories.
We heard stories of runners overcoming obstacles just to get to the starting line. We heard stories about runners extending themselves by signing up for something they had never done before. We heard stories of runners pushing their minds and bodies to the limit to reach their goals.
Ellen told me her story at the starting line. She had lost 100 pounds and was running her first half marathon to prove to herself that she could continue to do anything she put her mind to. I saw Burt, an 87year- old man, finish his 325th marathon defying logic that “old people can’t run a marathon.”
I saw Dani, a Mankato native, blaze the trail in the half marathon with the biggest smile on her face.
Her passion and enjoyment of running lit up the path and those around her as she flew by. I talked to Scott, whose hamstring cramped in Sibley Park; even though he knew he wouldn’t make his goal time, he kept going, kept pushing, and remained positive all the way to the finish line.
Perhaps the most impactful story I saw unfold was Rebecca’s. Rebecca, the last marathon finisher, displayed resiliency and perseverance even as she had to finish the race on the sidewalk, because the marathon course was closed and cars were zooming by. She kept going so she could proudly call herself “a marathoner.” As I listened to these stories I heard passion, persistence and a belief that anything is possible. I heard perseverance and positivity.
I also heard that these people run for the same reasons that I do, no matter how fast they were or when they finished. It reminded me of a quote I heard once: “I am a runner because I run. Not because I run fast. Not because I run far.”
We run to accomplish a goal, to work at something day by day and week by week. We run to lose weight. We run to feel better about ourselves. We run to prove that we can accomplish anything with hard work and dedication. We run to be with others and experience the social aspect of running together. We run because it is what we do, because running is who we are and part of our identity.
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© Cindra Kamphoff, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Minnesota State University. She also operates Your Runner’s Edge, www.yourrunnersedge.com, where she consults with all types of performers to help them transform their performance and their lives. Her column will appear in The Free Press periodically. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.