WatchToday is just THE best. It’s warm, the sun is shining, we did HILL repeats at our team run earlier (I really, really like to run hills) AND I got to ride my bike outside after work, I had an iced coffee this morning, I’m watching my alma mater play in the Patriot League Champs (the GLORY league of NCAA Division 1 – obV) annnnd I’m rocking my new shark watch (see right). There are a lot of environmental factors driving my optimism today, but let’s talk about the internal factors that drive a positive mindset.

One of the things that’s come up over and over again in my quest to gain the knowledge of great athletes is that the mental preparation is every bit as important as the physical preparation. From visualization, to positive self-talk, your mind is 100% going to make or break you during a race, but it’s also a huge (and often overlooked) element in your training.

FUNIt can get pretty easy to start thinking about your workouts as work – especially when they’re taking up enough time to be a part-time job – but that’s a recipe for disaster. Unless you’re a professional, you’re not racing to put food on your table and roof over your head – you’re racing and training because it’s an activity you enjoy (I hope)! So first and foremost, it’s good to remember that while training IS hard, it’s supposed to be fun. Sure, sometimes you’ll leave a workout feeling trashed – but it should be an “I just kicked my ass and dug deep to get better at doing something I love, and it feels wonderful and awful” kind of trashed. (Yes, I love run on sentences. Don’t hate.)

So here are some tips to help you keep a positive mindset while training, gleaned from various sources across the internet, IRL, and via printed publications:

1) When shit gets really hard, smile. In fact, just smile once in awhile when you’re training and racing – be the crazy athlete with a shit-eating grin while you slog uphill.

2) If something goes wrong, instead of letting it eat away at your soul, identify what went wrong and why, and take steps to fix it. Did you just bonk? Check your nutrition and hydration.

3) Remember WHY you decided to do this. Are you trying to kick a goal on your bucket list? That 6am workout is hard to get up for, but isn’t it cool to know that you’re working towards a goal? Do you just LOVE to move? Remind yourself of that when you really really don’t want to lace up after work.

4) Talk nice to yourself. Yea, this shit sounds ridiculous, but it works. In the same way that the manner in which you talk to yourself about your body image will inform the person you see in the mirror; the way you talk to yourself about your training and capabilities will inform the person you’ll be on race day. Next time you feel like you’re slogging, remind yourself what a bad mamma jamma you are for working through it!

5) If you’re really truly having a shit time of it, you may need a break. Take a day or two off and focus on things that bring you joy. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a couple days, but rather, celebrate yourself for knowing your limits and taking the time you need in order to get to the finish line healthy and happy!

In the land of my training, I just took an extra day off because I took on one too many commitments the week after daylight savings (I struggle!).  It’s cool though, leading up to it, I had a solid week of training (albeit a little short on bike mileage – but high on fantastic outside runs), and this week, I’ve rejiggered my schedule a little bit to hit my time and distance goals for the week in spite of it. Whoop!

So, since it’s all in my head, I can be the next Michael Phelps, right…if I realllllllllly believe I can…

Do you have any tips or words of wisdom that inspire you stay positive?

About the Author Aubrie Fennecken

Aubrie Fennecken is the Chief Alchemist at Opportunity Kitchen | work + wellness strategist | nonprofit fundraising expert | providing productivity and self-care support for mission-driven humans

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