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Fitness Begins In The Mind!

Angie and family climbing Square Butte in Central Montana

Angie and family climbing Square Butte in Central Montana

Since we’re traveling around the American West climbing mountains and seeing family we’re a little behind on podcast production.

Here’s a training lesson pulled directly from the Academy member’s only area. I know you’ll love it!

Before you can physically run 26.2 miles or accomplish any other running goal you have to believe that you can do it.

Fitness Begins In The Mind!

As human beings our minds are very powerful and can even affect the way our body functions. People can actually control their heart rate, blood pressure and the natural feelings of panic by using the power of their mind.

We want you to begin to develop a positive “I CAN DO IT” mentality when it comes to your marathon training. You need to actually begin to visualize yourself as a runner and marathoner.

What the Research Says

In a study published in 2013 Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, researchers at the University of Kent in England had young volunteers repeatedly cycle to the point of exhaustion.

Scientists don’t fully understand how the body knows when it’s had enough but this study the participants were divided into two groups. One group continued exercising as normal and the other was given self-talk exercises to do during regular exercise for the next two weeks. Phrases like “you’re doing well” and “feeling good” were some of the positive mantras.

When both groups returned for their repeat tests the regular group performed similar to the first test. However the self-talk group was able to cycle longer and harder while feeling less effort even though their heart rates and facial expressions remained the same. [1]

3 Steps to tapping into the powers of your mind

  1. Self-awareness. Be aware of what you are thinking. Identify the thoughts that are actually flowing through your head. Socrates’ guiding rule was “know thyself.” We recently went to an event where Jillian Michaels was speaking and she talked about this principle. She encouraged people who want to take action and make changes to set an alarm to go off every hour of the waking day. When it goes off ask yourself, “What am I doing? How do I feel about it? What kind of thoughts am I thinking?” Sometimes we repress our feelings instead of identifying these areas and working to change them.

  2. Identify negative self-talk. We are all guilty of negativity at some point or another. The key is not to get stuck in a negative pattern and have a constant “script” of negativity flowing through our minds. We need to recognize the wrong thinking, replace it with the positive, and reach our goals. Examples of negative self-talk include: I don’t have time to train for a marathon, I’m too old, I’m too fat and out of shape, I don’t have anyone to support me, and I have a bad back/knee/ankle.

  3. Replace negative thoughts with positive truths. It’s not enough to just get rid of negative self talk, you need to put something positive in its place.

Here’s an Example:
Instead of thinking: “I can’t run a marathon, I have a bad back/knee/ankle.” Realize that thousands of people have overcome challenging health conditions to train for a marathon.

On just another biking commute to work, NYC firefighter Matt Long was crushed by a bus. Due to the heavy blood loss, Long’s blood pressure was dangerously low by the time he reached the OR. His body was also mangled with a compound fracture of the left tibia and femur, a compound fracture of the left foot, a fractured right shoulder, a fractured right hip, perforated abdominal walls, a torn rectum, extensive pelvic nerve damage, and a crushed pelvis.

“His chances for living were five percent,” the doctor said. “Maybe even less than that.” But no one accounted for Matt Long’s strong will. After five months and 22 surgeries, the man whom doctors had saved and rebuilt was no longer the same man who’d gone under that bus. Surviving that kind of trauma was one thing. Finding the will to live again would be another thing entirely.

A titanium rod ran through his left leg, virtually from his hip to his ankle, supporting his shattered tibia and femur. Metal screws kept the bones of his left foot in place. His right leg was two inches shorter than it had been before the accident, a side effect of his broken pelvis. His right abductors (the powerful buttock muscles that keep us erect and help propel us) were basically dead. He could raise his right shoulder no higher than 90 degrees. He underwent several surgeries to try to heal his battered abdominal–wall muscles, and his stomach was sealed by processed cadaver skin. He had to relearn how to walk.

Despite this extensive list of injuries, Long reached for his inner athlete and after months of grueling training, ran the NYC marathon in 7:21. You can read about his entire journey in the book The Long Run.


Quick Tip

MotionTraxx and PodRunner: Running music podcasts at 180 beats per minute.

Hi Angie,
 I have an idea for a quick-tip for you! I just finished listening to the podcast about slow runners, and when you mentioned metronome apps it made me think of running music podcasts. These podcasts are a mix of upbeat music at a consistent BPM, which means you can download the ones at 180
BPM to keep your cadence at the right speed while listening to motivating music! I use MotionTraxx, but I think PodRunner is another popular one. I started using the faster cadence music after a running form clinic at my local running store, and I noticed immediate improvement in my pace and energy level. Thanks for the excellent podcast- I’ve been listening for years now, and you and Trevor have been great company through many runs, weight training sessions, and hours at the microscope at work. Good luck at your next marathon! –Janise

Thanks Janise!

[1] http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/keep-repeating-this-workout-feels-good/?ref=health&_r=2

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