At last week’s Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team meeting, Dr. Grayson Kimball gave us advice rooted in sports psychology to mentally prepare for the Boston Marathon. One piece of advice that I found particularly interesting had to do with creating positive mantras.
Dr. Kimball advised not setting goals like “I just don’t want to lose steam on Heartbreak Hill.” Even though the end result (making it through Heartbreak with good energy) is positive, the negative phrasing focuses you on failure. A positive alternative would be “I just want to make it to the top of Heartbreak Hill with strong strides.”
The same lesson can apply to mantras, the short phrases runners often choose to repeat to themselves when a run gets tough. A bad mantra? “Don’t stop.” A good alternative? “Keep going.”
I was glad to realize the mantras I fall back on most often are positively phrased:
- Just get the miles
- Just keep moving forward
- One foot in front of the other
(Obviously, I tend to focus on survival versus excellence in my times of need, but hey, whatever works.)
When I catch myself framing goals or mantras in the negative from now on, I’m going to try to be mindful about spinning them the other way. I’d rather focus on achievement than avoiding failure.
What positive mantras do you use in your running? How about your day-to-day life?