Nowadays I'm a real advocate of positive thinking. In the past I've been rather prone to those inner demons niggling at me - telling me I'm not good enough or can't achieve a task, and of course it's a self fulfilling prophecy. Once you give into those demons it can be a downward spiral.
I made the decision a while ago (about the time I decided I was going to lose weight) to embrace small victories. Celebrate each pound lost rather than stress about how many more I had to go. This shift in direction has been amazing and along with keeping my goals small but exciting it means I get a win more often and this, for me is hugely motivating. I've become an advocate of ticking things off a list (mentally and literally) and I like it.
Running is the ultimate opportunity to embrace this philosophy. You might feel like everyone is running faster or further than you and this can feel demoralising. But for a lot of us it's true. But running isn't about winning the race. Who cares if we are never going to be Jo Pavey or Paula Radcliffe? But you can take on some elite methods for positivity. Here are my top tips.
1. Small victories - I'm never going to run a 4 minute mile (or probably a 5, 6, or 7 minute mile for that matter) but I might just be able to knock 5, 10 or 15 seconds off my mile time. And each time I knock off a single second it's a record! Imagine that - you can break records! And even better you're a record holder already! Don't worry what everyone else is doing.
2. Give yourself an aim for your next run. Rather than faster, try running an even pace or running negative splits. Ironically these will likely all make you faster.
3. Goals don't have to be about time. Try being conscious about running tall or keeping your arms relaxed. Set yourself the challenge of trying out a parkrun or running in a new place.
4. Not every run is a race. Think like an athlete (because you ARE one) and remember you need to run at different paces to build speed, stamina and strength. Run an easy pace for a recovery run after a harder session. Back off the pace to enjoy your surroundings or to run further, or throw in some intervals to gain a bit of speed for a sprint finish. It's not just about running fast - don't beat yourself up about not running as fast as you can every time you go out. In fact you can feel even better about yourself when you remember you are training smarter not necessarily faster.
5. Progress isn't linear. You won't necessarily see improvements every time you run or race. Don't worry about it!
6. Keep a log - It's sometimes easy to focus on how far you have to go, but more difficult to remember how far you've already come. I vividly remember when I couldn't imagine running for 2, 3, 5 or ten minutes without stopping. Now I can run for over two hours. That's a huge achievement!
7. Find your inner cheerleader - Don't underestimate the power of positive thinking during your run or race. We all have those moments where it's feeling really tough - slogging up a hill, getting near to the end of a run and feeling tired or even in those first tortuous minutes before you get into your stride. When you start feeling like negative thoughts are creeping in, tell yourself instead how awesome you are feeling - that you feel strong and energetic. Don't wait to spontaneously feel these things - running is hard work! But if you say the words (even in your head) you'll start to believe it!
Juneathon update - Day 23 - 5km after work (and before a delicious burger out with friends) with some equally delicious negative splits! Hell yeah!