I missed my stop on the train. Totally forgot to get off. I was so engrossed in what I was doing. Zoom… we were past it. I didn’t even notice, until I started seeing sights more familiar with Glasgow Queen Street than Croy. I knew then what I had done.
Thing is, I could get worked up about this. I guess in the past I would have, I was a bit annoyed with myself as it would mean I’d be an hour late getting in. Louise had already made the dinner, and I wouldn’t see the boys till later. But, here’s the rub, no amount of anxiety and stressing about it was going reverse the train or time for me. It was, simply put, not going to change things. I was on my way in to Glasgow and that is that.
Instead of lamenting it, I used it as an opportunity. An opportunity to throw together some words on positive thinking. Now, I don’t mean that borderline lamentable positive thinking where you go about kidding on nothing phases you and even getting your balls kicked by a donkey wouldn’t elicit a sweary word. Nah, I mean the kind that just helps your outlook, your drive, your ability to ride life’s lumps and bumps. Let’s call it pragmatic positivism.
I was reading recently that the one of most important traits a high-achiever can have is to have optimism. Or if you like, a positive slant on things. By high-achiever, I don’t mean if you want to be POTUS, or lead singer of Atomic Kitten or the best in the world at something; simply being the best you can is higher than most folks would reach!
As you would expect, I will bring this into running. I hear loads of people talking themselves down; sometimes it is self-effacing – a way of deflecting attention, but more often than not it is borne of a negative outlook. And this can be catching. If you go into your training thinking you cannot achieve the standards you want, chances are you won’t. Soon after, you self-sabotage other elements of your training and before you know it, that negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don’t believe – you miss. You don’t believe ‘cause you missed the last time – so you miss. Repeat until bored.
The thing with optimism, and positivity, you don’t need oodles of time with a sports psychologist or a certificate wielding quack who wants to extract your hard earned greenbacks from you. Some of the simplest little changes can really accumulate into massive gains. Putting an about turn into your mindset can have as much an effect as running extra miles, or maybe even more. It is a key part of a runner’s armoury yet one that is rarely looked at.
Here’s 5 simple wee things I personally ascribe to helping me be positive:
SMILE: Try it. When you see folks when you are out, smile, wave, say hello. They may not wave back. They may call the police depending on the vigour with which you wave (I’d advise no cuddling just yet). Either way, just the act of smiling, and meaning it, can be a superboost for your psyche!
VISUALISE: You will hear this all the time, but it works. In a hard training session, I visualise stopping at the end, breathing hard, sweat dripping off me and the feeling that I have accomplished what I intended. In a race, I will visualise what I want to achieve and pull on the power of how I think that will make me feel.
NEVER LET ANYONE ELSE PUT YOU DOWN: Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent…’ – you can control your reaction to others. Take control, be your own boss. Set your own standards before someone else does for you.
INNER MONOLOGUE: Talk to yourself. Lots! But use positive language. Tell yourself you can do it, and mean it. Pat yourself on the back when you do it well. Celebrate with yourself, and remind yourself when the going is hard and you are in a tough place that you have done it before and can do it again.
TAKE A BREATH: If you find your struggling to overcome the negative thoughts, take a breath and pause. Even just a few seconds will do it. Replace the negative thought with a stronger positive. Rationalise why the negative thought is there, then discard it. This isn’t easy but practice it and you crack it. I know it 🙂
I could write thousands of words on this subject, but just by recognising the impact negativity can have on your running you open up a whole world of opportunity. Imagine you are in a race and it is gruelling, your quads are sore, it’s tough eh? Me, I think about what isn’t sore! Oh, look, my calves are good; I have no blisters; my ankles are strong. I am making the point I expect to hurt and whilst I do, it’s not as bad as I feared. How cool is that?
Next time you are about to kick yourself, feel down about something or generally just to react with negative energy, stop and give taking a positive spin a go. You might just like what it feels like.