As many of you know, I was out with an injury for several weeks recently and it made me think about why you should be removing negativity from your running vocabulary. During the downtime, I became extremely comfortable with not running. I was actually a bit concerned that I had lost my “running mojo”. But in the last few days I’ve begun increasing my mileage to prepare for my next marathon – the Myrtle Beach Marathon on February 15th. I’ve got a training plan laid out before me with every day marked for a specific distance and type of run, plus the occasional rest/cross-training days; it’s my road-map to victory, if you will.
But my nemesis (negative self-talk) is back in town and is refusing to leave. Halfway through my runs I become filled with self-doubt, “Will I really be able to run this marathon?”, “I can’t run like I used to”, “So many people are faster than me now.” And I’m just starting my training! This got me thinking about what I’m doing different this time around.
With my time off from running, I’ve slacked off on the things that kept me hopeful, uplifted, and motivated. I’ve quit doing things that improved my everyday life (with or without running). As a reminder to myself, and to help those with the same issues, I thought I would write down a few things that I’ve used in the past to combat negativity. The last thing we need on a 22 mile training run is a head full of self-doubt, and there are ways to alleviate it.
Probably the most important tool in my running toolbox is the practice of sitting in silence. It’s something I try to do every morning whether I’m running or not. But I find it extremely useful right before a long training run, or race. Allowing yourself the time to relax and focus on your breathing can clear your mind and eliminate negative dialogue. I typically sit for 5-10 minutes (either on the floor or on my bed) and listen to the sounds around me. I then turn inward and listen to my body, paying close attention to my breathing. I also throw in some positive thoughts, assuring myself that I’m ready to tackle whatever life may present me. By the time I head out the door to run, I’m in a better place mentally, which in turn allows me to perform better physically.
Books to improve your Running Vocabulary
I can’t stress this one enough. If your training for any length of race, read a running book as part of your daily regimen. There’s nothing more motivating than reading inspiring stories from elite runners who overcame obstacles to achieve greatness. Some of my favorites are Born to Run, Eat and Run, and Finding Ultra. As I read through these books, I felt as if I were part of the action. With each chapter I read, my urge to run grew stronger and stronger. And that’s exactly what I need when I’m hitting the half-way point of a training plan and don’t want to go another mile. You will also learn a lot of tips from these books that will prepare you physically for the miles ahead.
Note: You can also get a free copy of my eBook here.
I’ve recently begun listening to podcasts while running. There are literally thousands of podcasts out there that cover topics from technology and finance, to web design and marketing. As a running blogger I like to stay up to date with the newest advances in the blogging world, as well as learn new techniques to improve my running.
Not only will this keep your mind busy while you run, but it could help you solve a problem at your job or business. For me, some of my stress comes from working and school. What better way to distract yourself and make running fun again? If I can study and run at the same time, I’ll feel much better at the end of my run. I may even figure out a solution to a problem that lead to my stress in the first place.
As you’ve probably noticed, all of these tools are mental. This is because it is a barrier of the mind that we must overcome. And although this mental problem may seem superficial, it can have a serious impact on our performance as runners. Don’t let it get the best of you. We can all achieve great things with a little motivation, distraction, and self-confidence.
“The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” Carlos Castaneda
Do you battle with self-doubt? I challenge you to overcome your negativity this week and look at your running vocabulary. Let me know the tools you’re using to improve your thoughts while out on the pavement.