By Nichole Burke


First, open up the mind and heart. Next, let go of fear, anger, and guilt. Now you’ve found the present moment. Now you can finish any race you begin.

Michael D’Aulerio

I am currently in the middle of marathon training, with only a couple weeks to go I have done the work and I am gearing up for the race. This is when I really focus on my mental game. 

For my first few years of marathons and running I would approach each race focusing on what I didn’t want to happen. I would relive each past race just looking at where everything went wrong and completely disregarding what went right. Come on, I finished running 26.2 miles, some things obviously went right.

Please don’t let me get sick. Just don’t fall apart. As long as I don’t die at mile 15 I will be okay. So many of these thoughts crowded my head, filling the corners of my mind and not allowing space for anything else. The only emotion that comes with what you don’t want to happen is fear. Fear of whatever you are focusing on. Fear of getting sick, tired, and/or falling apart. 

As I learned to run the race I was in, focusing on the moment instead of what went wrong or what could go wrong something magical happened…

When I became a mom something within me shifted. I approached my first race post baby with the thought of just having fun. Having fun meant letting go of the fear and not dwelling on every wrong thing that may happen. Instead I focused on a plan and celebrated the moments of success throughout the run. When something didn’t go as I had hoped I learned to let it go and just focus on “the next right thing.”

As I approach my next marathon I keep reminding myself of the joy I felt last year. Yes, it was my fastest marathon, it was also my first post cancer/post chemo marathon. I ran with all heart and not an ounce of fear. I have learned that fear holds me back, while joy propels me forward. 


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