A Penny For Your Thoughts?
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 http://amyreinink.wordpress.com.
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.