While on a long and brutally tough run this weekend in my training for the Houston Marathon, one of my club Northwest teammates taught me a new and sweet way to get my mind out of the gutter and back into optimism when the going gets tough and your body is telling you to stop. The majority of the time when you are uncomfortable and you feel as though your body is telling you to stop, it is your mind not your body that is limiting you. Our bodies are resilient and can take a lot more punishment than we let them take. Most of the time, we listen to the thoughts in our head which tend to flood our stream of thought when we are uncomfortable. Typically these thoughts sound something like this:
"How much farther?"
"I don't think I can keep this pace any longer."
"I need to stop."
Probably the most difficult and most important part of competing is developing the ability to combat these negative thoughts with positive ones. It is something that all athletes struggle with at all levels. In light of this, I thought I would share a new tactic that I was taught this weekend when the going gets tough.
When you begin having those self defeating thoughts, use the alphabet to turn your thoughts around. Start with the letter "A" and begin telling yourself something positive using each letter of the alphabet. Continue doing this all the way through the alphabet and if a self defeating thought creeps into your mind, slam it down with something positive. Here are a few examples you can start with:
A: I'm AWESOME
B: I'm gonna BEAT this
C: CRUSHING it
S: SMILE Through Pain
Thanks Club Northwest for giving me this awesome mental strength building technique. I hope all of you can use this tactic in your next competition as well.