I’ve been working on training my brain to stay positive and strong while I run. And last week I a huge revelation = Mental Training DOES NOT happen while you’re actually running. So I’m sharing some tips on how to get started training your brain to run better and a list of positive affirmations to test run (get it).
First a few quick updates on my running and eating adventures…
This weekend’s long run was TOUGH. The entire time I felt like it was harder than it should be. This made me feel out of shape, very slow and discouraged. It was completely mind f-ing me.
I started to think about turning back early… then, I thought about how out of shape I was and how maybe I’m not ready to train for a race at all right now… that led to thinking I’ll never be back in race shape again.
It makes me cringe to remember because there’s still a part of me that believes all of that right now. I felt like crap and my thoughts went spiraling.
Those negative thoughts were extra powerful because I was physically having a hard time so it reinforced that it must be true. So I couldn’t snap out of it or fight it. I was in the pain cave mentally and too tired physically to look for a way out.
I actually had found a new route for my long run so I was hoping the new location would help distract me from the usual boredom and regular fatigue that comes with a long run. But, that lil trick didn’t work this time. Boo.
Here’s a pic of the new running route…
When I reached the end of the path I turned around to head back home and it felt a little easier. I was still tired and discouraged but it was weird that I felt a little better all of a sudden, right?
I realized that the first half of my run was slightly going up in elevation the entire time. There were small rolling hills along the way, and the path is surrounded by a pretty park so it’s not obvious that going in that direction takes you gradually up up up.
That was part of why I felt so slow. It was NOT the only reason – I was genuinely having an off day.
But when I turned around and realized how much better I felt when I stopped going up in elevation – I also realized I let myself spiral into negative thoughts very quickly.
When I started to feel better physically on the way back I felt better mentally too. I was very happy to think – ‘hey, maybe I’m not that out of shape, the uphill def added to feeling bad!’.
But it’s so hard to snap out of a negative thought cycle when you’re in it AND feeling bad physically.
That’s why I wrote this post.
You need to train your mind so it defaults to – positive thoughts. When you’re having a hard day or interaction or run – you want your mind to stay calm, strong and powerful. But that doesn’t happen on accident – you have to practice all the time.
I think I’m about half way through the book and so far I’d recommend it to anyone.
It’s hard to believe (or remember) your mantra when you’re exhausted & hurting on a long run.
Struggling up a big hill doesn’t make you want to think positive thoughts.
When you’re doing the physical work of running your mind is focused on that and it’s extremely challenging to add in mental work too. So the mental training should start when you’re not running.
And because it’s so important to run strong – it’s more than just a pre-run pep talk.
Fill your mind with positive and empowering thoughts every chance you get. It doesn’t have to be about running – be your own cheerleader for everything.
Pep-Talk All the Time! Give yourself a mini pep talk at the start of your day or before class, an appointment or a meeting.
You did great! Throughout the day give yourself some praise or appreciation for just being you.
Celebrate every accomplishment. Be your own biggest fan. After every big or small accomplishment cheer for yourself with words, a lil dance or round of applause.
Love Language Yourself. What’s the best way for you to feel love or appreciation? Use your love language on yourself and write yourself notes, say it in the mirror, record yourself to listen to later, etc. Say it. Write it. Believe it.
Phrases to use in mental training
Here’s a list of phrases that can help you train your mind. These are ideas to get you started on your mental training. This aspect of training is very personal because it has to resonate with you to be effective. Go through this list, say some of them out loud and see how it feels (full disclosure, it’s probably going to feel awkward at first – this is almost the opposite of what we’ve been programmed to do).
If you train your brain to be your biggest fan- it’ll be easier to hear that voice when you’re running. So make these (or your positive affirmations) part of your everyday dialogue. The more you use ’em the easier it will be to go to a positive place when you’re having a rough time.
List of Mental Training Phrases to get you started:
I got this!
Yes I can.
I did a great job!
I am brave!
Try it right now and see how you feel. Save this list and add your own affirmations to it. Then, read them every day until you figure out which ones feel right for you to use.