The body follows the mind, so what you think about with emotion is what you get. It’s not just what you think about, it is what you feel about. There are two emotions: one feels good and one feels bad though we give them all sorts of names, but the cliff note version is this: one feels good and one feels bad. So, if you think things with emotions that feel good, you get that. If you think things with emotions that feel bad you get that. It’s simple. Pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling and if it serves you go with it. If it doesn’t, you have the ability to change it.
Give this a try the next few weeks of your training. Prior to your next training session, pay attention to what you are thinking and feeling going in to it. Does the idea of your upcoming training feel good or does it feel bad? Keep it simple. Good feelings, bad feelings. What is your mind and body conveying. Do the same during the training and again after your training. How did it go? Was it a good session? Did you learn something new or feel you improved your fitness? Even though you may have been pushing yourself, do you feel good about that? Did you approach it with an attitude of gratitude for your perfect health, the legs that carried you over the distance, the moment of time you had to train, the weather or the chance to be outside? How appreciative you were about what you can do, what you can accomplish, makes for a good feeling moment. You are then more likely to do it again.
Physical thoughts can make or break your experience. Heck if you are going to be out there, may as well make it fun! What is more enjoyable, thinking that you are too slow and your bike is a piece of junk or imagining you are on your new one and you are crushing it? Imagine how your muscles are getting stronger with every pedal stroke or running stride or length down the pool. Imagine you are on your new bike, feel how fast you are, how you slice through the air! Imagine you are in the finishing stretch of the Olympic marathon with the crowd going wild!
Here is a simple process to great success. First, be aware of what your thoughts are. Second, decide if these thoughts feel good and are therefore serving you well. Third, if they are creating a good feeling within you, keep doing what you are doing. If not, then make those changes that will create good feelings. For example, you might have a long run scheduled for Wednesday, but the Sunday prior you are dreading it because you are imagining how it will be cold, snowy, slippery and dark when you go. With thoughts like that, why would you do a long run?! But your goal is to do a half marathon and you feel you need to get this training in. What to do? Options might be to find a partner to do part or all of it with you, get a headlamp, do a portion of the run or all of it on a treadmill. Or get out there and enjoy the quiet of the streets. Maybe the darkness can be calming or the lights in everyone else’s homes you pass is warming. Use the contrast of the cold of winter to the warmth of summer which, hard to believe, will return. Recognize that you have set a goal and you are doing what you can to achieve it.
Imagine what you want. Know how you want to feel. Practice that in training. Train your thoughts. You will be primed for race day where you then let it all happen. Your job on race day is to continue to enjoy and appreciate what you can do. If you have a good journey you will have a happy ending!
Celeste St.Pierre is a triathlete (sprint, Olympic, off-road, half and Ironman), Total Immersion Teaching Professional, USA Triathlon coach, USA Swimming Level 1 Coach, certified Pilates instructor and owner of TriathlonSkills.com.