Filling our minds… or finding a mantra

Here’s a favorite quote: “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:15)

I was recently reminded of these words a few weeks ago when I attended a workshop on marathon racing strategy. Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about two related concepts. The first: running a marathon will be painful (duh!). The second: you need to have a mantra (or positive thoughts) to get you through the tough times.

At this point I have to confess that when I think back to some of my most difficult runs, my self-talk was pretty horrendous. I usually was focused on berating myself for not being fit enough or not eating correctly. I can still remember that as I chugged my way up a very long hill at mile 11 of a half marathon a couple years ago the words “you should eaten better” kept repeating themselves in my mind. The unspoken message was that if I had been eating better I would have weighed less and thus the hill would have been easy.

In retrospect, every time a run became hard I told myself that it was because I was not fit enough! Filling my mind with this negative self talk was not getting me anywhere!

To discover that “it’s supposed to be hard” (duh again!) was tremendously freeing. It’s hard work to run long distances. It’s hard work to run up a long hill after 11 miles of running up and down smaller hills. It’s not just hard for me but its hard for everyone. The same goes for other challenges we face in life as well.

And this is where the second concept comes in… the mantra. The truth is that in all of life we are affected by our self talk. If we continually put ourselves down we will have difficulty succeeding. If we tell ourselves that we are not capable of whatever task is set before us then most likely we will not be capable.

But if we think about what is good and worthy and helpful we’ll be able to approach whatever task is before us with a better mental attitude.

As for me, my new running mantra is “I’m fit, I’m strong, I can breathe!” What’s  yours?

2 thoughts on “Filling our minds… or finding a mantra

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