Positive Affirmations

Affirmations are words or phrases which are repeated over and over again to reinforce a single thought. For example, a negative affirmation might begin with the words “I can’t do ____” or “I’m not _____”. A positive affirmation might begin with the words “I can _______” or “I am _________”.

Why is this important for a runner? Most people have heard the saying that running is largely a mental sport. Well, it’s true! One of the reasons distance running is difficult is that we have so much time to think and it’s not always easy to keep our thoughts positive. Of course if all our thoughts are about quitting or failing we’ll never achieve our full potential. The good news is that the opposite holds true as well: if we focus all our energy on positive thoughts we are likely to reach our goals. When practiced repeatedly, our beliefs become our reality. Affirmations are the foundations of not only our fears but our confidence. And in running, confidence is the key to success.

Thoughts Can Predict Our Outcome
It’s easy to see that our thoughts predict our outcomes. What’s not so easy is to correct our negative thought patterns and turn them into positive affirmations. It is a constant battle that requires us to step out of our comfort zone and accept the challenge of freedom from our doubt and fears.

The first step is to realize that we are the source of our own problems. Every time we allow a negative thought to settle in our minds, we give power to the thought and we let it control us. This can be anything from “It’s too hot” to “I’m going to get last place”. Of course we should acknowledge our fears and not be afraid to feel them. But we should also be prepared to combat them with positive affirmations and make the best of any situation in practice, race or our daily lives.
The second step is to come up with a few go-to positive affirmations. An easy place to start is to look at the areas of your training or racing that make you feel most insecure. Then find a few phrases to help you make it through those moments of insecurity.

Try starting your affirmation with the words “I am ______”.  Personally, I like the phrase “I am powerful”. It’s short, simple and it is critical to my success as an athlete. It’s also something I doubt on occasion during a hard race or practice. You may choose another phrase, such as “I am ready”, “I am strong”, “I am determined” or anything that makes you feel confident.

Affirmations are usually 3-5 word phrases and the best affirmation is one you choose for yourself. It’s ok to reach a little bit here. As you repeat the phrase your brain will learn to believe it and your body will respond.

The last step is to practice.  Once you’ve picked your affirmation, memorize it. Write it down, say it out loud and fill your brain with positive affirmations throughout the day. Most importantly, start bringing your affirmations to practice. Repeat them before, during and after your workouts. Every time a negative thought crosses your mind, block it out with 3 positive affirmations. I have found this to get a little bit easier over the years but I don’t think that being positive is second nature.  It is very hard to master your mind, but if you can your body will follow.

What is your Affirmation Statement?

Running with Passion

German poet Christian Hebbel once said “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”

Take a look at these two championship photos you’ll notice one thing in common: these runners competed with heart. They found an event that they could put their whole mind body and spirit into, and they gave it their best effort.

Obviously we can’t all compete at the world class level like the athletes in these photos. But we certainly can learn from them how to get the most out of our running experience. The answer is passion. One of my favorite characteristics of track is that there is an event for everyone. Every person on the planet has an event best suited for their talents and their goals. Our job is to find it and own it. Our job is to fight off all the excuses and fears and become the runner and person we were meant to be.  Some of us will end up as marathoners, while others (perhaps the more sane crowd) will stick with the mile or 5k and be happy. The point is simply that each of us is capable of the passion displayed in these pictures. There is no greater joy in running than to know you have given your best effort – so it is our job as students of the sport to examine our hearts and be faithful to follow them to the finish.

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Avoid the Binge

Everyone knows what it’s like to be getting ready for bed, but instead of slipping under the covers you head to the kitchen. What should be a glass of water turns into a bowl of cereal, which snowballs into leftovers and a bowl of ice cream.

Unfortunately, studies show that eating large meals late at night may be a poor nutritional habit. Primarily, this advice stems from the awareness that our digestive system is not firing on all cylinders prior to sleeping. However, studies also show that eating late can actually keep us awake, which causes a host of other issues.

Pro triathlete, Jesse Thomas, offers this advice to help avoid the late-night gorge session:
“I never let myself get hungrier than a 7 out of 10. That means I snack a lot on well-balanced mini meals between 15 and 300 calories…”

Examples of “mini-meals”

  • Smoothie
  • Eggs & toast
  • PB & J
  • Snack Bar
  • Fresh fruit/veggie
  • Small salad

Thomas continues, “If I eat more often, I actually eat less because I don’t turn into a T. rex at night, scouring the kitchen cupboards for every morsel of food.” In other words, by eating steadily throughout the day, your body will be less likely to reach bedtime in a calorie debt. Food binge avoided. Belly slimmed. Good night’s sleep.

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