As a runner, the real power comes from our mind. If we do not change our mind, we do not progress.
We can run different terrain, wear different shoes, or move with a different form; but if we do not change our mind, we will never run a longer distance. You will go through the same motions over and over again because everything outwardly changes but nothing inwardly changes.
When I first ran a 100 ultra marathon or even a marathon, I had to transform my mind. Sure, It took a lot of physical training, but you never feel 100% ready enough. To get to the starting line it did not take a changed stride; it took a changed mind. I had to tell myself it was possible, know it was possible, and BELIEVE it was possible. But most importantly, I had to BELIEVE in MYSELF.
How can you change your mind? The key is to overcome negative habits.
Overcoming Negative Habits
The moment you wake up in the morning is the moment it starts. What type of habits do you have when you wake up?
Do you wake up with energy or do you hit the snooze button three times? Do you say thank you for another day of life or do you say thank you for another like on social media? Do you move right out the door or are you distracted by the “what if’s” of the day?
Bad habits stop us from reaching our goals in running and in life. But once we replace our negative habits with positive ones, we begin to change. We no longer hold ourselves back, and we start to transform into the runner who can reach longer distances. But it all begins with overcoming negative habits.
How do we overcome our negative habits?
First, we must identify them. Try to stand back and look at your daily routines objectively. When recognizing negative habits understand this: we have habits but we are not our habits. We are not procrastinators; we have habits of procrastinating. We are not worriers; we have habits of worrying. We are not complainers; we have habits of complaining. The good news is once you can identify your negative habits, and replace them with positive ones, change happens FAST. Soon, instead of finding a million reasons not to go for a long run, you can’t think of a reason not to.
So what are the fastest and most effective ways to change our mind? Read on as I lay out how to run away negative habits. As you read on, discover your negative habits. Once you identify the habits that hold you back, replace them with positive ones. With new positive habits, you will become a better runner who can run further and faster than ever before!
1. Step Up
How do you break a negative habit? Step up and take immediate action!
What habits do you have in the morning? When you first open your eyes do you hit the snooze button? Do you have to drag yourself out of bed?
It’s not that you’re unmotivated to run, you’ve just developed a negative habit. To break this habit, leap out of bed every morning the second you open your eyes! Don’t over think it, don’t hesitate, and don’t hit that snooze button. When your eyes open, JUMP! After a few weeks of this, you will have trained your nervous system, and it will become habitual. You will have developed a new positive habit to replace the negative one. Now waking up and going for a run becomes easy!
Our minds try to talk us out of making changes. We perceive the unknown of change as a threat to our survival. There’s only a small window between our thought to run and the thoughts that make us hesitate to begin. Hesitation is a habit. That’s why taking IMMEDIATE action is necessary when we run.
Stop wasting valuable time and release the brakes! Are you uncomfortable about running outside for the first time? Don’t think just move! Hesitant to run a longer distance? Don’t think just move! Scared to sign up for a race? Don’t think just move! Yes, there’s time we need to think through a situation; however, when it comes to running, don’t think just move! What’s most important is taking immediate action, running the miles, and overcoming negative habits!
2. Work Hard
There’s never been a finish line I crossed that ever made me a better runner. What made me a better runner was the intense training and sacrifices I made. When I post a picture of myself crossing the finish line of a 100-mile ultra marathon, it doesn’t show the blood sweat and tears that went into it. It’s not showing the months of grueling training, or the injuries I’ve overcome, or the sacrifices I’ve made. There’s no post showing me running 12 hours through the night, in the rain, or running sick, or running tired.
It’s the times when you’re not racing for a medal or an online finishing time. It’s those long days at work when you get home and go out for a run anyway. That’s when we overcome negative habits! Its when you sacrifice a night of good sleep so you can fit in a long run. That’s when you overcome negative habits! It’s when someone says you’re reaching too high, but your grab that shining star anyway. That’s when you break negative habits! It’s when you fall down, pick yourself up, and say, “I still got this!” And most importantly, its when you never EVER give up.
When a runner makes a race look easy, remember this: people are rewarded in public for what they’ve practiced for years in private. Running takes hard work no matter how it looks from the outside. But for every negative habit we break, it’s one less anchor that holds us down from sailing forward.
So push forward, overcome negative habits, and work hard, really hard. It takes hard work to reach your running goals. No, it’s not easy, but I’m here to tell you, yes, it’s possible!
3. Reduce Fear
Stop being afraid of what can go wrong because this will never benefit your running. To overcome this negative habit, be excited about what could go right. Instead of being fearful of not reaching the finish line, focus on placing the medal around your neck. Instead of being afraid of becoming injured, focus on pure health and vitality. Instead of being fearful of becoming a runner, focus on running and changing your life for the better.
For you overachievers, know that “stress” is just another name for fear. Fear, or the word we give it today, “stress”, is a natural survival instinct. But most of us aren’t fighting for our survival, so we develop stressful thoughts for non-threatening aspects of our lives.
I won’t tell you that we can eliminate fear entirely, but it can be minimized. And it can be done through a little something called COURAGE.
What is courage? Courage isn’t when you know you can do something. It’s when you’re scared or doubtful, and you push yourself through it anyway. But guess what? Courage is a habit as well. The more times your fearful and dare to follow through, the easier it becomes. Suddenly, courage becomes the habit while worry and fear reduce. Taking action on what we fear, or what creates stress, becomes a positive habit. Now instead of focusing on what could go wrong, you become excited about what could go right. And when we run, so much can go right!
4. Be Creative
When running long distance, it takes creativity to fit in all your training runs. To break the habit of not finding enough time to train, become more creative!
How do we become more creative? Simple, make every single training run a MUST and not a SHOULD. When you make training a MUST, you will always find a way.
Why does our dream vacation stay our dream vacation? Because our dream vacation is a SHOULD, not a MUST. We SHOULD go, so we continue to put it off. But when we make something a MUST, like eating to live, we always CREATE a way. When you make training a priority, instead of finding excuses you begin finding solutions. There are countless times I’ve run through the night and woke up at 1:00 am in the morning to run. I’ve hopped out of cars and ran home, ran to parties, and ran to work. The list goes on and so does the finish lines if you eliminate excuses and start becoming creative. Make your training a MUST, make that new distance a MUST, and you will always CREATE the way.
5. Find Growth In Failure
For most, failure is a daunting fear. The fear of going all-in and not achieving your goal frightens most. So the natural solution is to put one foot in and one foot out. This way if you do not reach your goals then you haven’t failed because you were never fully committed. Partial commitments crush more of our running goals than injuries ever will. If you want to run long distances, it takes a FULL commitment.
It will take a leap of faith to reach the starting line of a new distance. You MUST jump out that plane and go for it! And guess what? Sometimes your parachute won’t open. But if we learn from our failures then it’s not a failure at all. When we view failure as a learning opportunity, running and life become a win-win game.
When we exercise we expand by demand. The harder we go, the bigger we grow. So begin to look at challenges as a way to grow. When you’re tired and go for a run, that’s like a strength training exercise at the gym. You grow by pushing yourself when you’re holding yourself back. When you run and want to quit, but you finish anyway, that’s when you grow. When you fall flat on your face, dust yourself off, and finish anyway, that’s when you grow. When we run we MUST take chances, we MUST learn from our mistakes, and because of this we grow as runners. That’s how we conquer long distances!
6. Uncover The Human Spirit
You are unstoppable! The human spirit stretches far beyond what we could ever comprehend. I can’t tell you what the power is precisely, but I can tell you it’s there.
When running distances over 100 miles you discover how powerful the human spirit can be. When running 100 miles part is ran with your body, most with your mind, but the end runs with something beyond both. It’s that intangible power. When you push your body far past complete exhaustion and then run farther, you ignite the power of the human spirit.
What’s the shortest and fastest way to get there besides running 100 miles? Easy… LOVE. If you begin to view life as love, suddenly, your negative habits become visible. Whatever blocks the flow of love weighs us down and becomes noticeable. When you lead with love, suddenly, life stops happening TO you and starts happening FOR you. Fear, negativity, judgment, hate, and all other negative habits begin to disintegrate. When we can run from a deeper understanding of love and faith, suddenly, all barriers vanish, and you can run any distance imaginable.
7. Learn To Endure
Running is so much more powerful than most understand. As we run we develop the most significant advantage in life, the power to endure. Not only do we run and build endurance, but it feeds itself. The more we run, the more enduring we become and use it to become a better runner, who can endure more. Endurance creates a perpetual motion as long as your heart beats!
Endurance is our greatest advantage as a human being. Anyone can develop endurance. As a runner, it’s our lifeline. It takes endurance to run and make progress each week. It takes endurance to wake up early on the weekend and run instead of sleeping in. It takes endurance to run until your legs fall off then go home and be a parent. Endurance, energy, and movement are the hidden treasures of our lives. They empower us to become better runners.
Endurance tramples negative habits; it blows them away; it leaves them in the dust. When you master endurance, negative habits can’t keep up!
To take our running to the next level, we not only have to change our bodies, but we have to change our minds. We MUST stop sitting around waiting for the perfect moment. We MUST stop waiting around for the right time. The right time or the perfect moment will never come on their own.
The secret is that we create the perfect moment, we create the right time. We do this by overcoming negative habits and replacing them with positive ones. When we replace fear with courage, or procrastination with action, or excuses with solutions, we then create the perfect moment ourselves. So lace up those shoes, change your mind and change your running forever! NOW is the right time to run.
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