The Power of Positive Thought
Mental strength and self-talk for runners
by Coach Jenni Nettik
I can’t do this.
I’m having an off day.
I’m just not as strong as . . .
Do any of those thoughts sounds familiar? Probably, all athletes have negative self-talk, it’s how a runner responds to self-doubt and negative thoughts that sets him or her apart from the pack. I’ve found that racing comes down to three things: fitness and health, nutrition and fueling, mental strength and self-talk.
For me, mental strength was the missing piece of the puzzle for successful racing. It was my weakness, now it’s a challenge I enjoy. Athletes use a lot different techniques to tackle the mental aspect of sports. I have a few tips to help you get started working on your mental game.
1. Understand that everyone has negative self-talk.
First, I think it’s important to realize that you’re not alone. All athletes battle the voice in their head when the going gets tough–even that person in front of you, and the winner of the race. Mental strength is something you can practice and increase like fitness.
2. Become aware of it.
I don’t think people always recognize how often they have negative thoughts or create excuses that set themselves up for failure, or a less than ideal performance. Have you ever thought, I’m feeling tired today? Well, that may be true, but what’s the benefit of telling yourself that over and over? What do you hope to gain by telling everyone that you didn’t sleep last night? What you’re doing is giving yourself an out, telling yourself it’s okay to run a little slower or skip the workout altogether. Does that help you reach your goal? No.
3. Stop it!
Once you’re able to recognize negative self-talk, you can stop it. The easiest way to stop negative thoughts is to simply say, “Stop” to yourself when you have a negative thought. Saying it out loud, or under your breath, makes you even more aware of it. Think you need a little more feedback? Try wearing a rubber band around your wrist, and snap it when you have a negative thought. Again, this makes you aware of your negative thoughts, and provides a consequence to help change your behavior.
4. Replace your thoughts.
So, it’s a speed day, and speed work is hard. You’re doing fartleks, and all you can think is, I hate these. First, stop the negative thought. Now, try rephrasing your thought so it’s neutral or positive. For example, you could say, three down, only five to go, each one gets me closer to the end. An even more powerful positive thought would be, this is making me stronger and faster, helping me reach my goal, I’m going to qualify for Boston.
5. Find your Mantras
Mantras are short phrases that you repeat to yourself, they’re powerful thoughts. A mantra can be something as simple as, I can do this. It can also be a cue like, relaxed and smooth, shoulders down. A mantra should be personal because different things motivate different people.
Having multiple mantras is helpful for different phases of run or race. Early on, use something simple like, I’m strong. Later, when things get tough, use a more powerful mantra like, growth comes when you are uncomfortable.
Practice your mantras in training, just like you practice your fueling, you want to be prepared and know how to use them on race day. Mantras can replace negative thoughts, or be used as meditation to prevent negative self-talk from creeping in.
6. When you feel good, embrace it.
Sometimes, everything goes according to plan. You’re on a run or in race and your mind is blank, the time is vanishing, and you feel great! Know that your hard work has paid off, and enjoy the feeling!
Positive thought is a powerful tool for running–and life in general.
How do you use mental strength and self-talk when running and racing?
A few ways runners benefit from vitamin C
by Coach Jenni Nettik
That’s a picture of my fruit bowl this week, actually, my half eaten fruit bowl. It’s filled with twenty cent grapefruit, sweet clementines, my favorite Italian treat–blood oranges, and a fresh lime from our indoor tree. The abundance of fresh citrus fruit is one of my favorite things about winter, a season that’s a little gloomy this year, even in Colorado.
Well, it turns out my love of grapefruit and all things citrus may actually be good for my running. Citrus fruits, as well as tropical fruits, are packed full of vitamin C. A vitamin that performs several important functions for runners.
Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of connective tissues like cartilage, tendon, bone and skin. Unfortunately, many runners are familiar with injuries to connective tissues like runners’ knee, IT-band pain and stress fractures. Vitamin C is vital to the healing process and overall joint health.
Vitamin C plays a role in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters secreted during exercises. Neurotransmitters like norepinephrines stimulate the heart, blood vessels and sweat glands during exercise. Like the runner’s high? They’re responsible for that euphoric feeling too!
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It may reduce the the symptoms and duration of upper respiratory tract infections, more likely to occur after strenuous physical activities like running. Stay healthier and prevent disruptions to your training by eating foods high in vitamin C to prevent illness.
Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron. Many runners struggle with Anemia or low iron levels which can cause fatigue and negatively impact performance. Consuming vitamin C with non-heme iron rich foods or supplements enhances the absorption of iron.
While vitamin C has lots of health benefits, contrary to popular belief, it can’t actually cure the common cold.
What’s your favorite thing about winter–running related, or not?
Source: Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, Monique Ryan
How to make your New Year’s resolutions last a little longer!
by Coach Jenni Nettik
1. Write down your goals! Keep them somewhere you’ll see them–on the fridge, in your office, on your phone or even broadcast them to the world on social media.
2. Sign-up for your race or event. Now your money and mind have the same goal!
3. Keep a running log or journal. Tracking progress helps keep motivation high. Use an online program like Garmin Connect and your data will automatically upload from your watch to the computer. Know you need support from others? Record your workouts on Instagram or Facebook and use the positive feedback to stay motivated when things get tough. Want to keep it simple? Use my favorite–a Moleskine notebook. Record your accomplishments the old fashion way with a pen & paper.
4. Reward yourself! Set small goals and reward yourself for reaching them. Did you get your long run in even though it was cold and windy? Make time to take a hot bath. Did you workout three days a week for the entire month of January? Get yourself a new pair of Smartwool socks to keep your feet warm during your February runs. Did you squeeze in a morning run even though you despise them? Treat yourself to a cup coffee! The rewards don’t have to be big, just something to tell yourself thank you!
5. Recruit & run with friends. Schedule a weekly friends’ run. Use it as a time to catch-up during the week. If your motivation is running low, chances are someone else will have a little more enthusiasm and you won’t want to disappoint.
6. Join a run club! Lots of shops, bars and restaurants in Denver offer free run clubs. Joining a club like HTB Run Club means you’ll meet other like-minded folks who enjoy socializing, running & drinking beer at the same time and place each week.
7. Get a coach! A coach will help you reach your goals by tailoring a training program to your specific needs. A coach can help keep you strong & healthy by focusing on things you don’t enjoy doing on your own like strength exercises, mobility stretches, speed intervals and hill repeats. A coach also keeps you accountable to someone besides yourself. Mercuria Running is a great place to start your search for a coach. Use the code: NEW YEAR to take 10% off your booking during the month of January.
What helps you stick to your running resolutions?