Running – Get in your Head
By: Justin Levine
When most people think of running they think of logging miles, what type of shoes should I buy, what workout should I follow, what type of stretches should I do and so on. Well today I am going to talk about improving your mental game to improve your running game. This component not only can help you improve your performance but can tremendously help take your game to a whole different level. Mental conditioning needs to be worked on just as much as the physical conditioning side of things. We need to teach and train our thoughts to be positive. Did you know that 80% of most humans’ thoughts are negative thoughts? The crazy thing about this issue is that we can do something about it. We can change our attitude, our thoughts and our mindset. But just like running a faster 5k or preparing for a marathon, we must put in the training to improve our performance. And it just doesn’t happen over night. It takes daily affirmations, consistent positive thinking and a burning desire to want this change. So I have laid out 5 mental exercises for you to work on to improve upon your mental conditioning. The key is to actually take the time to work on these strategies. You can read these over and over but nothing with change until you actually practice these strategies. And yes, these are for everyone!
1. Daily Affirmations. First, when you wake up you must create positive thoughts before you even jump out of bed. Do not wake up muttering, “ugh, another day.” Say things like: “Today I will be my best and give my best”; “I will move closer to my goals”; “Nothing will get in my way”; “I will tackle my problems with a full head of steam”; “I will drop body fat”; “I will improve my times in my workout.” These thoughts will turn into actions and you will see a tremendous change in your mindset and your life. You have to be conscious of this exercise, as it is very easy to just get out of bed and “get through another day”. Remember each day is a new beginning, a fresh start, and a brand new chance to create greatness. We cannot focus on yesterday but having a good and better yet GREAT today will make for a better tomorrow. Secondly, after a long day, when you are lying in bed about to fall asleep, finish the day with a positive thought. “I did my best today”; “I am so happy to be alive and tomorrow will be another good day”; “Good job on your effort today”; “Tomorrow will be another great day”. Starting and ending your day with positive affirmations can be a game changer.
2. Believe in yourself at all Times. During the day you must create a mindset that truly believes in yourself. Do not put yourself down or have disbelief in accomplishing a certain project, or workout, or task. Think of the self-degrading comments we tell ourselves sometimes. Would we like it if someone else said bad things about us? Absolutely not. That would make us very angry. But yet too many times we are putting ourselves down and disbelieving in our abilities. No matter the task at hand, do the work necessary to kill it. If you have the action and the mindset you will accomplish. Believe in that and you will start doing Big Things.
3. Try some meditation. Have you ever sat in a room or in your car with complete quietness, your eyes shut and focused on your internal thoughts and mindset? Try doing this for 10 minutes everyday. Do it before your workout or before you step into your office or before a big race. Meditation can relax your mind, get you centered, focused and energize your thoughts. With such busy lifestyles our mind is always racing and thinking of the next step. Focus on zoning out and direct your attention on your thoughts and your internal motivations. What drives, inspires and motivates you? This internal conditioning can be a supercharge in energy that you have been looking for.
4. Positive self-talk. This one goes hand in hand with running performance. During workouts and training you must create a positive self-awareness that will lead to successful performance. It is easy to talk ourselves into not completing the recommended distance or the last few intervals. Continually tell yourself that you can do the mileage and you can push through the tough intervals. This will transfer over to your racing as when you are pushing and giving it your all, you will be able to push through that uncomfortable zone and have a successful race. When those negative thoughts enter the head, immediately erase them and turn them into positive thoughts. “Keep going”; “Yes, I can”; “I can hold this pace”; “I can do 1 more hill repeat”; Your performance goes in the right direction when you think positively.
5. Write down all of your goals. This can be a road map to a successful training program. What do you want? Faster 5k? Run a marathon? At the end of each season, you need to assess the previous season. What were your strengths? What were your weaknesses? What will be your goals for the next season? Goals are just random ideas and thoughts until they are written down. Create a game plan that you can look at everyday. When your goals are in sight every morning when you wake up you are more likely to stay on path to accomplish those goals. The next step is showing those goals to a mentor or a coach. Now you are held accountable to achieving your goals. Meet with that person periodically throughout the year to talk about where you are at and what you need to do to stay on path.
Running is a physically demanding sport and you need strength, endurance and speed to improve your physical performance. But the mental side of things is just as important to work on. If you create a mental conditioning program to improve your overall thoughts and mindset you will become a better athlete. Become great and do big things by working on the strategies above. It is time to be HUGE! Keep living and keep training and big things will come your way.
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