I got a proverbial punch in the face tonight by my run.
I headed out for a run at 6 PM, it has been a long day at work and I was hungry, didn't really feel like running, but I had that nagging knowledge that I NEED to run. You know, something about a marathon and an ultra hovering above my head like a black cloud, reminding me to get out there and run. So I walked in the door at 6, said hello to the fam, changed my clothes and headed out into the gray, misty evening. I actually like running in the mist. It is much better than pouring rain and more bearable than 99% humidity and 100 degrees.
Anyhow. I started out and felt pretty fresh-for the first 300 yards. Then BAM. I was tired. Bored. Hungry. Grumpy. Sore. Bored....
I suddenly didn't really care. I started to worry about my pace, my legs, my training. Doubting myself, my abilities, my determination. My commitment! My willingness to persevere! I actually had the thought, "I wonder how ugly it would be if I showed up for the marathon with my current average of 10-15 miles a week?" Then I immediately went to--"I can't do an ULTRA! What was I thinking?!"
That's when it hit me....I am suffering from Low Run-Esteem.
Now, I know better than to let my thoughts beat me down and influence my feelings...and to let my feelings guide and effect my behavior.
Have you ever heard of the Cognitive Triangle? Well here is your chance.... Simply put "I tell myself something" "I feel something" "I do something"... All three are very closely related. It's been proven and research provides significant evidence...in fact if you think about it you could probably identify many examples.
This diagram is pretty common in the field of mental health. I use it all the time with the kids I work with actually. You see, putting this triangle to work I can analyze what happened on tonight's run and why I ended up walking before my Garmin chirped the One Mile mark. I THOUGHT I was tired, I thought I was bored----so I felt bored, I felt hungry, I felt tired, I thought I was starving, I thought I had to get home and make dinner, I thought I had to go home to do nothing and sit down, I started to feel grumpy and lazy-----My BEHAVIOR mirrored my thoughts and feelings. I slowed down. I drug my feet. I WALKED for crying out loud. I turned around and headed home at the 1.7 mile mark. I quit at just under 3 miles. I defeated myself with my negative thoughts....
So what can you do when you realize your thoughts and feelings are negatively impacting your run? STOP. Yes, simply stop the thought in process....change the thought...imagine a stop sign. No really!
When I told myself I was tired and bored I could have STOPPED that thought and replaced it with, Wow! It feels great to be out here, in nature, outside, after being inside working all day long! Or even, YES! I am so lucky to be able to run today! Without a doubt, when you replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts you can see how it effects your behavior. So go ahead, I challenge you to think about this during your runs for a few days...I can recall times while running with my running partners, when the conversations got a little heavy, or emotional, the run got physically harder, my legs got tired, my pace slowed. So it's not just negative thoughts about running, but negative thoughts in general.
So the lesson is: Think positive, feel positive...be positive.