I’ve had a lot going on with my day job since I last posted. It appears I may have a breather as we head into the weekend, so let’s see if I can finish this and post it today. We shall see….
While I have been busy with my business, I have been thinking about running in the spare moments – and when I have actually been running.
One major theme that has come up for me is the mental part of the entire gestalt of running. In the October, 2013 issue of Runner’s World there is an article which places extreme emphasis on the mental side. If you would like to read it, please click on this link: Train Your Brain Hard0001. For me, this is radical, not gradual. I believe the strongest and longest lasting method is steady, gradual development, both physically and mentally.
I recommend the book Psychocybernetics, by Dr. Maxwell Maltz to give you a better idea of this longer term approach to the mental side of life, including running. This book was the foundation of the mental approach to training I learned at Stanford University when I was in school eons ago. Dr. Maltz was a plastic surgeon who noticed over the years that many of his patients who had improved their appearance physically through surgery had not improved their internal self-image. Negative “self-talk” continued to dominate their thoughts.
He ultimately discovered that positive thoughts, vividly imagined in the mind’s eye, are perceived by the mind to be every bit as real as actual events. He believed a person’s outer success could never exceed one’s internally visualized success. From this he developed a template which his patients could customize to codify areas of life they wanted to improve. Here are some of the positive affirmations we used on the track team:
- I am a relaxed, fast runner.
- I enjoy my workouts.
- I am a winner.
- I am a good student and I complete my assignments easily.
- I focus on my breathing to distract myself from pain during strenuous workouts and races.
- I enjoy doing my affirmations every day.
We were instructed to find a quiet place, close our eyes, and relax. We then repeated each affirmation aloud and focused on evoking a vivid mental picture of ourselves in action, executing the affirmation in as much detail as possible. For example, when you repeat “I am a winner,” see yourself coming down the final straightaway, pumping your arms, legs strong and churning, then leaning forward, first to break the tape. Of particular importance is seeing yourself enjoying doing your affirmations every day, because this ultimately overcomes the negative thought that doing the affirmations is a waste of time.
This approach is alive and well today. In the January Runner’s World issue there is an excerpt from the upcoming release of the book, The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow. Here is the link to the 2 page article: Winning Mindset0001
One of his affirmations is, “I vividly see and feel myself performing well.” This speaks to the points that affirmations need to be present tense and clearly seen in your mind’s eye.
Dr. Afremow also addresses the problem of negative thoughts popping into your head during competition and hard workouts. He suggests stopping that negative in its tracks, and then replacing it with a positive thought. He cites as a process example, “My split time is off. I’m feeling stressed. Stop. Breathe. I’m going to press the reset button and take a fresh, confident approach to my next mile.” To me this is a basically sound approach, but I suggest a couple of modifications. The first four sentences are good, in the present tense. I would use the “breathe” sentence to visually imagine blowing out the “I’m feeling stressed” sentence, leaving room for the new, positive affirmation. I would also imagine the last sentence to be something like, “I am pressing the reset button… and I am now fresh and confident.” The “going to” and “the next mile” are future phrases. Affirmations need to be present tense, which he states elsewhere in the article. I also believe that more we say and imagine our affirmations, the less likely negative thoughts will find their way into our consciousness.
The mental component to running is integral to the enjoyment of our sport, so I would suggest you read both of these articles. See what makes the most sense to you.
Speaking of running, Nick Shepherd, the hero in my Thriller, Slaves On Horseback, is a runner who has lapsed. He returns to training which leads him through many twists and turns along his path and sustains him in surprising ways. It is available in print from CreateSpace, a Division of Amazon at www.createspace.com/3423793. If you prefer the Kindle Edition you can order it at: www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=slaves+on+horseback.
Please be with me next time, when I will give you an update on my training, and then share highlights on our trips to Hawaii and Australia.