The Marathon Mindset: How to Push Through Adversity with Linzie Starr

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Linzie's body gave out at mile 18 during the Ventura Marathon, yet he pushed onward. Hear his story on what it takes to keep going when your body screams, "NO!"



Running a marathon is one of the most physically challenging activities you can do. And most rewarding. 


While we are not all training for a literal marathon, we each have arduous or daunting goals we are striving for -- and it is in this shared quest that our journey's intertwine. The marathon is simply a totem for a target that looms large, off in the distance, to be pursued one small step at a time. But, how do you get there? What does it take? How do you mentally steel yourself for the road ahead?


Today, we talk with Linzie Starr of Sharp Endurance about his most recent marathon -- and the challenges he faced when his body gave way 2/3rds into the race.


About Linzie

Linzie Starr is (now) a Southern Californian endurance sports athlete who stumbled upon his love of running. In 2011, he embarked on his running journey simply to be more active, spurred in part because his family has a history of diabetes -- but largely instigated as a way to blow off steam from work. Growing up, he was not much of an athlete and never saw himself as a runner. Yet, after his first jog around his neighborhood, he instantly realized that he began feeling more alive and spirited... and to his astonishment, that he actually enjoyed the run!


In May of 2012 he ran his first half marathon in Orange County, California, and has been hooked ever since. He's since run more than 15 marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and more than 25 half marathons. And it is all this training and striving that helped Linzie overcome his most recent hurdle at the Ventura Marathon.



Mindset of a Marathoner

No matter what we are focusing on, our mindset will largely dictate whether we succeed or not. What can we learn from Linzie's story of overcoming adversity, and how can we apply that to each of our journeys? Let's learn more:


CogniTea: Tell us about the Ventura Marathon; you were aiming to PR, on pace for 3:55. Things were going well… then mile 18 hits. What happened?

Linzie: "This was my second year running the Ventura Marathon. In 2013, when I ran this race I actually had an ear infection onset right in the middle of the race and was forced the walk the second half. That’s a long walk when you’re in pain.

This year I was determined to return and do better. Ventura is a flat and fast course so it’s a great place to open the thrusters and show what you’re made of. The first half of the race was incredible. I was focused, determined, and knew what my game plan was. Around mile 18 my right hip flexor decided it didn’t want to participate."


Walk us through the experience: When did you first know something was up? What did you feel physically? What was going through your mind?

"I knew something was off around mile 16. I thought it was typical muscle fatigue. I realized what was going on and had an aloud discussion with my body. I do that when I run, I talk to my body... [it] helps me with the thought process. What went through my mind is, '’re starting to fatigue and get tight... modify it up but do not stop moving.'"


You decided to push onward, how did you resolve to yourself to keep going?

"I don’t quit. This was my 15th marathon. If I didn’t quit during an extreme weather warning and downpour in Florida in February (HI KATIE); if I didn’t quit on Heartbreak Hill during the Boston Marathon in April (HI ADAM); then there was NO WAY I was going to quit on this course because my hip flexor decided it would rather have a Dr. Pepper and not play. So I focused on getting to the finish, and celebrate the miles that went well.

Every run teaches you something, in my opinion there is never a failure if you started!"



Tell us about actual journey of the next 8 miles. That’s still a long distance to go. Break it down: What were the tactics that you used to get through the remaining miles? Did you formulate a plan? What are you thinking about?

"Yeah it is a long way to go! LOL. My tactic was simple: Don’t. Stop. Moving. I already knew the goal finish time was gone... so now it was about getting to the finish with a time I am proud of. I was thinking about moving forward. I was thinking about how happy I was with my race even though I was hurting. I was thinking of that delicious double cheese burger with all the bacon waiting for me as my reward at the Camarillo Airport restaurant, Way Pointe Cafe. I think about food a lot."


How, if at all, did your original goal impact your mindset or approach? 

"You always keep your goal in sight. But after I saw it pass, the goal changed. I said, 'Ok...that original plan isn’t gonna what’s next?' I just readjusted my goal and pushed toward that [new goal] based on how I felt."


It seems like you have a really positive and resilient mindset, have you always had this mindset, this resilience? How have you cultivated this over the years? Do you do any mental training, mindfulness or meditation?

"This is a fun question! People that have known me for years will agree, I’ve always felt like a leader and have always found myself in those roles. Leaders are people that inspire people to reach a specific target. So, I have learned through my own journey through that some things work better than others. Keeping a positive outlook on life, holding your head up high, and marching forward is the way for me. I may have my Grumpy moments... but I do not let them consume me or overrun my spirit.I want to inspire people. I want people to feel comfortable coming up to me and saying hello or asking for advice.


Running and yoga are my ways I burn off the day. Often times, I find the most beautiful inspiration while running. That’s why I enjoy trail running so much. You find yourself lost in these magnificent landscapes, alone with your thoughts or friends. I also read and meditate throughout the day to keep me focused."


What advice would you give to others to develop this powerful mindset?

First let me just say that it isn’t easy. It takes lots of work and requires you to be honest with yourself. To develop this, you have to believe it and internalize it. It goes beyond sharing Ghandi quotes (although those are amazing), you have to believe in those words, and walk and live the spirit of them. Your spirit is connected to everything.


Share love and positivity with others. That’s really it. Believe it, practice it, and walk in it. You are human like me so you will slip up. But be aware of yourself and share love and let others see the love that is in your spirit as you move across this earth.


Going forward, how are you going to alter your approach for your next marathon? What are you evaluating and how do you plan on adapting your training? 

"My plan is to continue building strength through cross-training and continue with my weekly run calendar. Ventura was a benchmark race. I wanted to see where I was. In terms of cardio endurance, I am in the butter zone! It’s making sure my entire body can get to the finish. So lots of strength and core training which will get me to that sub 4 in November."


What are you working towards now? How can the CogniTea Community help?

"My race calendar is already filling up for 2015 and it’s looking amazing. I will be returning to Boston in 2015 as a member of the Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center charity team. I have my goal to achieve a sub 4 marathon in Novemeber. And above all else, enjoy every step and inspire others along the way.


How can you help? Come over to my blog, read, comment, share, and interact. The posts are only as amazing as the great people that read them. I try to share as much inspirational material as I can including my recaps and giveaways.
You can always hit me up on social media (facebook, twitter) and email me as well :)"



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