A great post from our running guru, Mike. Get more running information and motivation under our Running with Mike category!
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right- Henry Ford.
This is an amazing quote and it’s something I have to remind myself when training isn’t going exactly as planned. We runners are incredibly fickle people & can ride a roller coaster of emotion through our training schedule. One run goes great and we’re Boston Qualifiers. The next time we go out and our splits aren’t where we’d like, we wonder if we’ll ever race again. Yet, for some reason, we keep coming back for more.
Whether it’s a 5k or an ultra marathon it takes a very special mindset to accomplish our goals. Sometimes being able to say you stuck with it through thick and thin is as gratifying as crossing the finish line. Many of the following points are instrumental in both the fitness/racing world as much as they are in the real world.
Visualization is one of the easiest things you can do to succeed on race day. For me this goes back to high school. It was a practice used during football season. Mind you, our record may indicate it wasn’t used all too well! However, this was a great discipline I carry with me today. The night before the game we sat down in a room together and simply meditated. It’s as simple as picturing what you have to do. The key is to not just picture what you have to do, but rather picture yourself DOING IT AND DOING IT EFFECTIVELY. I also say the sooner you start to visualize, the better. Once you have your goal created, set aside some time every day to remind yourself why you’re doing it and the joy you’ll feel once it’s completed.
Silence the Noise
We all have negative thoughts. No matter how positive of a person we are we’re not perfect and for some reason we like to remind ourselves of that. I’m not as fast as Jim. I’m not as thin as Cathy. I could never do my bosses job as effectively as he or she... This “background noise” tries to make us believe we’re somehow inferior to the person we want to be. We have to be able to push past this voice and have the confidence that simply trying makes us better than we were the day before.
In my opinion having a high self-view is the most critical characteristic to have for someone who is goal driven. I’m not talking about walking around like an ego maniac, being cocky, and boasting to all your peers about your past or future accomplishments. I’m talking about knowing deep down you have what it takes and that no matter what hurdles get thrown your way, you’ll get the job done. Having a little ego will go a long way!
As important as having an ego is, it’s only going to get you so far. Having a plan of action before you start down your journey can help to eliminate so many of those obstacles you’ll face along the way. Setting a timetable and a program, having alternate plans for weather/scheduling conflicts, studying diets, and getting first hand advice from someone experienced; these are all excellent ways to better prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
For myself it means looking into a coach for my next training cycle. I’ve completed 4 marathons now and shaved 28 minutes off my time in 2 years. In order to reach my goal of running a BQ, I still need to drop 19 minutes. Could I do it myself? Maybe! But, having someone set up a training plan tailored for me and being able to talk to that person regularly about the ups and downs of a 20 week cycle sounds a lot better than relying on myself alone. Never be afraid to ask someone for help. Chances are they’ve been in your shoes at one point in time.
The missing link that pulls it all together is GRIT. We’re not all born natural athletes or masters in the business world. Those of us that lack such natural athleticism (including myself) are forced to dig deep & put our nose to the grind stone. This may include waking up before the rest of the world does, working/working out during lunch breaks, or hitting the streets after the kids are put to bed.
It’s seeing fresh snow on the ground in December and knowing this is your chance to gain 20 more finishing spots because other competitors decided to take the day off…
If you have it though it’ll take you farther than your God-given body ever thought imaginable.
I truly believe you’ll see results if you apply these practices to future goals. These along with many more principles can be found in the Travis Macy book I noted above. With the proper mindset there’s not a lot you can’t accomplish. As a runner I always hear people say they could never run a marathon. Truth is there’s no doubt in my mind they could but first they have to eliminate that doubt and then want it for themselves. As the Leadville 100 co-founder says before every race,
You are better than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can!
See you out there,