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A Penny For Your Thoughts?

July 29, 2009


So far, in my guest post series – every single person I asked to write a guest post for me, has come through with flying colors.  No “I don’t have the time” – No “What should I write about?”  No “No’s”.  Just awesomeness.  So, Numero Seis – the next GP here is an awesome new friend of mine who lives and runs in Silver Spring, MD.  She is a gifted writer and runner and a mighty nice person to boot.  I asked, she delivered.  Thank you Amy – very much.

Amy Reinink is a freelance writer based in Silver Spring, Md. She covers the Washington area’s running community as the DC Running Examiner and blogs about her own running and swimming at

I can control my thoughts.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who’s always know you have this ability. To me, this realization was nothing short of life-changing, like discovering you have some fabulous super-power.

Even more revelatory: The realization that I can apply this incredible super-power to my workouts. Just by changing my thought patterns, I can ward off low-motivation days, maximize speedy days and make the days when my legs just won’t go less painful.

I’ve been writing about this for weeks. Luckily for you, now that I’ve tried these techniques, I feel comfortable summing them up with these greatest hits:

1. Keep a journal to track your thoughts before, during and after a workout. If you think all this mind-games stuff is a little too touchy-feely, this is a great way to prove yourself wrong (or to prove that you’re among the 1 percent of runners in the world who truly are fueled by crabby negativity). What kind of sneaky negative thoughts creep into your mind before a run? When do they start? When I did this, I noticed that on Tuesday morning, several hours before my Tuesday-night run, I was already bitching about the heat, and about how I’d probably lose the fast runners on the hills. Sheesh! No wonder I started the run feeling anxious and unmotivated!

2. Find some positive thoughts that work for you. Every sports psychologist I talked to emphasized that you don’t have to be Pollyanna-ish about this. There’s no need to spout sunshine when it’s pouring, and your shoes are so full of water, your orthotics sound like a child’s squeaky bath toy. But you *can* diffuse tough runs with humor, and find positive thoughts that ring true for you. Feel like you’re shuffling? Tell yourself to keep shuffling to the next curve in the road.

3. Once you find what works, use it to replace the negative thoughts. Then, repeat. A typical negative thought for me focuses on my hip hurting. I’ve had extensive hip problems for the past two years, so this is often true – it’s just not helpful to focus on mid-run. So I remind myself that I’m stronger than I was before thanks to tons of stability work. Kanye West’s “Stronger” is a permanent fixture on my playlist now as a result. Cheesy? Maybe. But it works.

4. Use it all on race day. Sports psychology consultant and marathoner Kay Porter suggests the following exercise to find a word or phrase tailor-made to improve your race performance:

Close your eyes, and imagine how you felt at the end of your best race or workout. Think of a word that represents that state of mind, such as strong, proud or tough. Repeat that word to yourself as you visualize your next goal. Repeat that word or phrase to yourself next time you need a mid-workout boost.

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. Buddha

12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2009 9:28 pm

    Great post today.

    It quickly becomes obvious that Amy writes for a living becuase her words seem to flow (I think that’s the right way to describe it). She offers some great advice that I plan on trying in the very near future.

    Another guest, another awesome post.

    Well done!

  2. July 30, 2009 1:38 am

    you do have some pretty sweet friends michelle! 🙂

    i have been enjoying amy’s posts on positive-thinking and brain-training lately. i need to work on this soo much! another good post about the mental game of running.

  3. July 30, 2009 2:17 am

    really great guestpost!
    I knew very good that I am in control of my thoughts. But I never really realized that I have so much inpact on my mood before go for a run. It is so simple but so effective. I like the techniques which are presented here like using Music, binding a word to a old feeling and repeating positive phrases about your run already in the morning! Really great!

  4. July 30, 2009 3:18 am

    This is a great, realistic way of using visualization. Sometimes I try to do the whole “run the race in your head beforehand” thing, and I get distracted by the quarter-mile mark. For those like me that need to be in the moment, this strategy totally works! Thanks, Amy!!

  5. July 30, 2009 2:53 pm

    Another good guest post, Meesh!

    But, geez, you have more guest hosts than Johnny Carson in his heyday!

  6. July 30, 2009 3:21 pm

    great buddha quote. very true.

  7. July 30, 2009 5:06 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. Good job picking a GP this time! On number 4… I’ve had some confidence issues after “that” marathon, so as I was trying to work through that, I realized that the best thing I could do is to think about my best races. What other better proof that “you CAN” is there than your own good performance???? Right?

  8. July 30, 2009 7:41 pm

    Michelle.. you sure do have terrific connection within the running community. Kudos! It is no wonder that I do get in the funk (or get cranky) if I don’t get my run in. I cannot recalled the last time I did the blue streaking after my run. Hence, I always feel good after my run – no matter how good or bad it is. Its a mood uplifter – period!

    Terrific Guest post !

  9. July 30, 2009 11:47 pm

    I love your guest posts (even if I don’t comment on many of them). Have you guest post on other blogs? Would love to do a swap of guest posts sometime.

  10. August 5, 2009 3:08 am

    Wow, these are all really good points. Keep up the guest posts, I love ’em!

  11. April 24, 2010 7:10 pm

    Nice post. My name is Ivan (12 years old) I,ve been running for a long time. If you want you can go to my blog.


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