Thursday, January 19, 2012

Talking to yourself: Not just for crazy people

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." - Henry Ford

Ugh. I mean, hills make me strong

I am a great believer of self-talk. In fact I live or die by it. I used to be filled with self-doubt and negative self-talk and I didn't even realize it! I would wake up in the morning already groaning internally about the weather, the traffic, the 'tough' day ahead.  I had to consciously change that thought behavior and I work every day at it by using positive self talk.

I love the Ford quote above because it's so friggen true. When I was 236 pounds I could've said to myself, "I'll never lose weight, run a block, be healthy… I'm a failure." And I could make that all true. Or I could've said to myself, "I'm going to stick to my health goals, run what I can at any given moment in my weight loss journey and become healthy."

Luckily, I chose the second statement and I chose to repeat it, repeat it and repeat it. Most of those times even "faking it til, I made it" in those earlier days.

In addition to positive self-talk, I find mantras, words, phrases to be very helpful during runs - or even in tricky food situations. They say that thoughts become words and words become action. I don't know the science of it all but I know that it works for me.

It seems I'm not Polyanna perky by nature. My first thoughts usually go negative, "this sucks" or "this is hard" when it comes to certain situations like long runs or hills. I have to be very aware of my tendency to do that and squash it quick!

I've started repeating things like, "I love long runs because_________" and I fill in the blank with 5 - 10 things. I have to. Or my brain just wants to say, "it sucks."  Ironically, I do like long runs but that mental game of 'finding the time' and just doing it can often get thwarted by my evil, negative brain trying to talk myself out of it.

During a workout where I'm feeling drained and like cutting it short I might think or say:
  • You are strong
  • There will be a day you cannot do this, today is not that day
  • Suck it up buttercup
  • You don't have to do this - you GET to do this - it's a privilege, enjoy it
  • Pain is temporary, Pride forever (got thru my first half marathon with this one)
  • This is joy
  • I love this run
  • Hills make me strong
  • This might be tough, but I'm tougher
  • This is the part that counts, so don't back down now
  • I'm a warrior
  • If this was easy, everyone would do it
  • I'm an athlete
  • This is your time
Most recently, blogger Maria Simone at Running A Life, quoted triathlon & running coach Bobby McGee with this: 

"Be the kind of person who does the types of things to have the results you want." I know that my friend Jason from Cook, Train, Eat, Race has been living by these words.

Words are powerful.

When I first started running, I called it the voices in my head that were like a bunch of mean girls… always telling me reasons why I can't… At least for the most part now-a-days - the mean girls have been hushed by a chorus of "you can's."

As you can see, I'm doing a lot of talking to myself. And sometimes I'm sure I look crazy. That's OK…  I'd rather be crazy than lazy! ;)

Do you talk to yourself during your runs?
Do you have a favorite go-to mantra?
Do you have a favorite running quote?


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