When the (run) going gets tough the tough use mindfulness….

Are you feeling the Training Blues?

Read on for some tips on how to bring some bright colour back into your runs!

So, you’re following your training plan, it’s all going well, you’re feeling AMAZED at what you’ve managed to achieve so far. You look at the mileage you’re completing now and reflect back to where you started and think, “Blimey, who is this person and what have they done with the ‘old, I’ll never be able to do that’ me!”

Then, suddenly, from nowhere, BAM! The doubt kicks in; you look down at the very plan that was filling you with a sense of wonder and achievement only a few days ago and you start to question your ability to achieve not only your end goal  but the next training run! The negative thoughts start to creep in; all the ‘what ifs’: what if I can’t do this, what if I need to stop, what if I can’t keep up, what if I let everyone down and the biggest ‘what if’ of all, what if I need the loo!! …arghhh, it’s just so exhausting and often leads to tears and a shed-load of wasted energy.

But panic not! These are just thoughts, they are not facts!

OK, let’s just stop (crying) and breathe (in and out) and relaaaax and look at the evidence, the actual facts. You’ve been following a plan, it’s been going pretty well, yes, there have been niggles along the way, yes there’s been the odd run where it was pretty tough, but heh, the rational part of your brain knows that was because of (& pick any of the following!)

  • You’d had a full on week at work
  • The kids had loads on
  • You hadn’t eaten very well
  • It was the time of the month
  • You weren’t properly hydrated
  • You were a little hungover
  • You’d had a crap night’s sleep
  • The weather was a bit rubbish
  • You felt guilty about taking the time to run
  • You’d walked the dog 5 miles too
  • You’d had an argument with the kids/husband/parents/dog/yourself
  • You just weren’t feeling it that day

The rational part of your brain knows that you were bound to pick up some niggles along the way, but you’ve been sensible (& pick any of the following)

  • You’ve adapted your training
  • You’ve sought professional coaching advice
  • You’ve seen a physio/sport massage person
  • You’re doing strength work
  • You’re eating well
  • You’re hydrating well
  • You’re looking after yourself

Actually, your plan is coming along quite nicely, the facts prove just that, in ‘fact’, you’re doing pretty damn well, you’re sticking to a plan, you’re looking after yourself, you’re managing to find the time and you’re achieving mileage you NEVER  thought possible and therein lies the clue to the negativity.

You’re achieving something you ‘never thought possible’; this is your belief system, you didn’t actually believe you’d do this, so a part of your brain is now trying to prove that you can’t actually do the thing that you thought you couldn’t’ do in the first place…confused?!!

The point here is that these negative fears are just thoughts, they are not facts. You can change how you feel about your training if you challenge these thoughts with actual hard facts.

I understand how this feels, I’ve  trained hard over the years, so know EXACTLY how the negative committee in your head can start to take control.

Here are some of my tips for managing this Negative Committee:

Write down what these thoughts are as they pop into your head, we tend to believe & trust them, not stopping to question their validity. These thoughts are often based on emotion or our opinion, not on fact. Remind yourself that thoughts are just that, they are not fact.

Challenge these thoughts by looking for alternative thoughts:

  • What facts do I have that the negative thought is NOT true?
  • Is it possible that this is an opinion? Maybe someone else’s opinion?
  • What would someone else say about my thoughts with regard to this situation?
  • Is there another way of seeing it?
  • What advice would I give someone else?

Practice Mindfulness

  • Learn to bring yourself back to being in the present,  focus on how you’re feeling in the moment
  • Worrying = future time and worrying will have no impact on the outcome; it is wasted energy
  • Ruminating = past time, what is done is done, you can’t influence or change the past; it is wasted energy
  • Being Mindful = being in the present, paying attention to the present, enjoying it, coping with it, getting through it.

Keep an OPEN MIND when it comes to the training run. You might think you know how you’re going to feel, but you may well surprise yourself, keep yourself in the moment and really feel how you feel.

Be CONFIDENT about your ability to achieve well on the run. A positive mind-set is far more likely to produce a positive outcome. Look at the facts, you are following a plan, you are doing what has been asked of you.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF no matter how hard it feels, don’t let the negative thoughts permeate, you are actually doing this thing

BREAK the run down in to smaller parts in your head; be in the present when you’re actually running, take notice of how you’re feeling. Try not to worry about the miles that you’ve still to do, keep yourself in the moment; Don’t catastrophize about what ‘might happen’ They are thoughts not facts.

Project yourself forward to the EUPHORIC feeling you will have when you’ve finished, because that is most definitely not a thought it’s a full-on FACT!

Good luck!

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