Intentional thoughts and positivity? Rubbish! Or…….maybe not. When you aren’t working out, running, or have that health game together it’s easy to let the dark and negative thoughts slip in. It can be at all your fellow runners or cross-fit buddies posting on social media, or it can be geared directly at your own failures. Either way it’s no coincidence that people who live healthy lives and stick to their plans seem happier in general. Hold my kale smoothie and let me do a shot of MCT oil, but it turns out they might be on to something.
Fighting The Suck-A-Tude
I’ve spent my share of time internally punishing myself for not working out, eating healthier or being more consistent. I’ve secretly loathed my friends (like a draw weird things on their face with a sharpie level of loathing) when I’ve seen them leveling up at the gym or on their runs. I’ve cried on the side of roads during runs and in front of the mirror more times than I can count. The problem was I kept this self fulfilling prophecy of my suck-a-tude going and let it either completely halt progress or render forward action to an alarmingly snail like pace.
Be Intentional. No. Seriously.
Through some accountability talks with friends, some reading and some soul searching on tough runs this year I really learned how powerful the concept of being intentional about your thoughts really is. Also, how hard it actually is. It takes fighting all of those instincts to tear yourself down or focus on the current misery you are suffering and powering through it, but if you can master it even half the time it is a game changer.
In the last two years it not only changed my running and fitness life, but everything else. Suddenly, I feel like the world is full of possibilities and the idea of failure is not an option. Now there are speed-bumps and lessons, not failures. In complete seriousness that is where it starts. Be intentional about your thoughts. It takes a lot of constant awareness (which admittedly can be exhausting at first if you aren’t accustomed to it) of your own reactions to things. Ask yourself how you typically respond to difficult things. It’s important you’re honest with yourself about this. Is it with negativity? With a sense of dread? With the feeling that your goals are impossible? Do you blame outside factors or things for your short comings? Then you need an attitude adjustment. I know I did.
Start Small and Stay Relentless
With day to day it just started small. Instead of getting frustrated with scenario’s I began to troubleshoot the obstacles I encountered rather than feeling out of control. I began with the thought that I could solve the problem, nothing else. In my running I started focusing on half miles at a time. I started thinking about how good it would feel when I finished instead of thinking I was going to die and was a failure. I started actively telling myself, “You ARE going to do this because you can.” I tell myself that I’m strong. I tell myself that I’m in shape. When I’m struggling with anything I tell myself that I’m going to get through it. I’m constantly telling myself how I’m going to achieve my goals now, even though my instincts still constantly want to reject my positive thinking.
Think about your words before you say them. Think about your own internal battles and stop beating yourself up. You don’t even have to believe it. Just say it. Embrace the idea of anything being possible. Work for your goals, but don’t hold yourself to them as a life raft. It’s about the journey there, not the destination. Take charge of your mind, of your body and of your choices. At first there’s a lot of faking it till you make it, but the process has real results. You can do anything you set your mind to. You can even do it without Kale!
Dena Kastor has a great book on this topic, “Let Your Mind Run.” She discusses gratitude quite a bit and changing her mindset. I struggled with the mental talk when I ran a Thanksgiving 10k last fall. I was expecting a PR and fell quite short, due to a lack of focus on nutrition and some missed workouts the week before the race. My mental game was huge during that race, and I did my best to re-direct my thoughts and focus on the good of me running that day: https://runningmybestlife.com/missed-personal-record/
Thank you for sharing and I’m adding this to my reading list! I long confused mental toughness with being hard on myself instead of being strong enough to encourage myself. It was a long journey, but a game changer. Awesome that you learned to do the same!