The internet is filled with running training programs. Couch to 5k? No problem! There are, at minimum, thousands of plans for that. Want to run your first half marathon at age 45? You bet there’s a plan for that. Type your unique running goal followed by the words ‘training program’ into any search engine and you’ll have enough options to browse for hours.
These countless options mean that achieving your running goals should be easy, right? Just find a plan that matches your ambitions, download it, work it into your schedule and, voila, your goals can basically be marked as achieved.
Not so much.
There is, of course, the first hurdle of choosing a training program from among the seemingly millions of options. But that hurdle pales in comparison to the true obstacle that’s waiting to knock you down after the training program begins. You see, when it comes to change, our brains are experts at getting in our way.
Our brains love the comfort of familiarity and they despise change. When faced with choosing between the comfort of current habits or making positive changes, our brains insistently pivot to the familiar. How many times have you tried to eat healthier only to find a donut in your hand? How many excuses does your brain make to keep you on the couch watching Netflix instead of logging those miles you promised yourself you’d run?
As a busy mom, it can be really easy to let that inner voice talk you out of pursuing your dreams. Train for a half marathon?! HA! You don’t even have time to keep up with the kids’ sports schedules. How in the world do you plan to fit training for a race into your schedule?
No matter how small or large the ambition, that pessimist inner voice is waiting to hold you back. In her book Everything Is Figureoutable, Marie Forleo passionately warns about the dangers of listening to your inner pessimist:
That voice is a lazy, whiny, repetitive, life-sucking little parasite. That voice, the one that’s constantly telling you how not ready you are, how much you don’t feel like doing this or that, how incapable and incompetent and not good enough you are. That voice is not you and it’s not true. The only power it has is the attention and the authority you grant it. Stay aware because the voice is cunning. It will do whatever it can to keep you caged in stuckness with logical, rational lies… That voice is a one-trick pony. It wants to tell the same old tired story of how incapable you are. Don’t be seduced. The faster you train yourself to disobey that voice, that faster you’ll fortify your ability to figure anything out.
The trick is to learn to take that voice at face value, stop listening to it, and instead fuel your ambitions with supportive self-talk. One of the most impactful quotes on the power of self-talk comes from Dr. James Pitzer Gill II. As the only human in the history of the world to complete the Double Ironman Triathlon six times, he said the following about his accomplishments:
I’ve learned to talk to myself rather than listen to myself. When I listen to myself, all I hear is fear, doubt, lies, and failure. But when I talk to myself, I can tell myself anything I want to. I can feed myself good thoughts of hope, confidence, truth, and victory. I can tell myself I can do it. When I learned to talk to myself rather than listen to myself, I realized that there was nothing I couldn’t do.
Quieting your inner pessimist and filling your mind with positive self-talk takes practice. A good first step is adopting mantras that you can turn to whenever fear, doubt and other negative thoughts pop up. Here are a few mantras to get you started but, in time, you’ll likely find others that are particularly effective for you.
Run with Purpose
Why do you run? Is it to stay healthy? Do you run to be a role model for your children? Do you run just to have some solitary time each day? Pinpoint your reason for running and tie it to the mantra ‘Run with Purpose’. When your energy dips or when you’re feeling unmotivated, turn to this mantra as a reminder of why running is important to you.
Own Every Hill
Becoming stronger starts in your head. How you approach hills while running directly impacts how you tackle other obstacles in life. Don’t let the hills intimidate you. Adopt this mantra and own them.
Strong as a Mother
Seriously, think about how strong you are as a mother. Sure, pursuing running goals is hard work but parenting is so much harder in so many ways. When you’re struggling through a long run or are striving for a new personal record, face the challenges with the strength of a mother.
I Choose Discipline
How badly do you want to achieve your goals? Take a moment and think about how the future you in one year or two years would react upon finding out that current you chose not to follow through on achieving your goals. Would she be angry? Would she be disappointed? Achieving your ambitions won’t be easy and your motivation to get through the sucky parts will waver. But you can choose the regret of not following through or you can choose discipline and do the work. When you feel like giving up, dig deep and tell yourself ‘I choose discipline’.
Looking for more insight on the power of self-talk and how to use it to fuel your running ambitions? Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor is a fantastic memoir that details how cultivating positivity transformed her running career.
Fuel your goals with positive self-talk and there will be nothing you can’t do.
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