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?



Lynette said...

I love it! I've been doing a lot of self-talk lately as I work towards my time goal for my upcoming half marathon. I usually say, "It's just a little work. It's just uncomfortable for a little while." I've also been practicing visualization. I visualize myself crossing that finish line way ahead of my goal, tears and all. ;)

Unknown said...

That's awesome and a great point about visualization!! That's a fantastic tool. I do that too. Sometimes I would visualize mile markers when truing for the full… seeing mile 18 and feeling strong, 20 and feeling accomplished, 24 and knowing I was going to make it…

Thanks for the comment Lynette.

Anonymous said...

I talk to myself often, but yes on runs. I have to watch it so people don't think I'm crazy, which, by the way I am....

Jason said...

Lynette - visualization is a huge key to success. When I'm getting ready to race my triathlons I go through the motions in my head and I actually move as if I were in transition to take my shoes off, sunglasses on, etc

Seeing yourself be successful is huge and keep doing it.

Jen - thank you for linking to me. As I told you there is no doubt that I am repeating this over and over in every training session especially when I know it is going to suck. Today was a perfect example but to become the athlete I NEED to be I had to push it and just know that it was only going to be for an hour.

For those of you reading this please be sure to read Maria's blog. She has great words of wisdom and is an inspiration with her determination.

Caroline said...

Oh yes I talk to myself during my runs...not out loud

/I tell myself not to think about the # of miles and focus on other things...

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

"Do it for those who can't." My mom had MAJOR health problems last year (yesterday was what I call her "re-birthday" when one year ago she had a radical cystectomy and a complete hysterectomy to treat her bladder cancer)and we didn't know whether she was going to make it. Then my dad has been going through issues with an arrhythmia. I think of them.

Does lip-syncing count as talking to yourself? I do that A LOT!

Maria Simone said...

Thanks for the shout out :)

Positive self-talk and visualization are such key parts of success in endurance sport. I love this post!

I talk to myself CONSTANTLY when I'm training. Sometimes, I pretend like I'm the announcer of a highlights show, and I narrate my training. I hear the inspiration music in my head and everything. Let's bring crazy to a whole new level.

I love your mantras - they are PERFECT!

Your story is so wonderful - I really hope we meet up at a race soon. We are both Jersey Girlzzzzz so the the chances should be good, right? :)

Suz and Allan said...

This is one of my favorite posts you've written so far and one that I definitely needed to read. Thank you so much for sharing all of this!

TriGirl said...

LOVE those! I talk to myself a lot. Usually it's telling myself not to be a wimp (in truth I use the word that rhymes with wussy). You have some great mantras!

Miss Carrie Ann said...

Hi, I'm a new reader and a new runner. My mantra is "Don't let your head give out before your legs give out" and "Pain is weakness leaving the body"

RunToTheFinish said...

ohh i talk to myself constantly!! mantras, quotes or just random thoughts

love this!