Staying Motivated Through Reading

I have read some really inspiring and motivational books this summer and want to share them with you…

IMG_2023“A Life Without Limits” by Chrissie Wellington…I have actually read this book twice.  I love that Chrissie does not just tell us about her life as a professional triathlete, but also tells us about her life growing up, her family, her friends, her education, her life experiences, how she overcame challenges with eating disorders, her career evolution, vacations she ventured on and the route she took to become a professional triathlete and the Queen of Ironman.  

“…with a positive frame of mind and a willingness to work, anything is possible.”                                                         ~Chrissie Wellington


“Can’t Swim, Ride, Run: From Common Man to Ironman” by Andy Holgate…One of Andy’s colleagues challenged Andy to complete a triathlon.  This challenge would change his life!!  He not only had to learn to swim and bike, but he was also engaged and accidentally signed up to participate in his first Ironman seven days before his wedding.  This book is about Andy’s journey to his first Ironman, with a little emphasis on preparing for his wedding day.

“One of the things that this journey has taught me is that you have to have a positive attitude to get anywhere in this life.  You first have to believe in yourself, then others will listen to you, and if you treat them correctly they will respect you.”                                    ~Andy Holgate

IMG_2038“Magical Running: A Unique Path to Running Fulfillment” by Bobby McGee…When I first saw this book, I thought it would be about running, running form, etc.  Boy was I wrong!!  This book is great for ANY athlete in ANY discipline because it’s focus is Mental Training…affirmations, visualization, setting targets and goals, self evaluation, relaxation, positive self-talk, mantras, key words/phrases, proactive (not reactive) training and racing…

“To run as I want to, I require of myself to exhibit the following characteristics in training, races and in my daily life:

  • being patient
  • believing in myself and my abilities
  • believing I am a successful runner
  • enjoying my running and participation in races
  • asserting myself
  • staying calm and relaxed
  • knowing I have choices in any given situation”

                   ~Bobby McGee

IMG_2040“17 Hours to Glory: Extraordinary Stories from the Heart of Triathlon” by Mathias Muller with Timothy Carlson…This book is a compilation of a variety of different triathlete’s journeys to and through Ironman competitions.  These journeys include those of professionals, age group athletes, wheelchair athletes and physically challenged athletes.  Each chapter is dedicated to an individual that has their own story to tell, which is told in their own, unique voice.

“Trust in yourself and never give up!”                                              ~Mark Allen

“You can idealize it or condemn it, depending on your mood.  Or accept it for what it is.  But what is it?  This Ironman is an exhibit of physical endurance, either designed by fools for heros, or designed by heros for fools.”                                                               ~Sister Madonna Buder

“Be tougher than the rest.”                                                                  ~Sarah Reinertsen

“Believe in yourself, never give up, and enjoy life.  Nothing is impossible!”                                                                      ~Marc Herremans

Running in Solitude

This begins one of my favorite times of the year…Coaching Team 12.4 runners…the spring weather is an added bonus!!  Almost every Saturday, I show up early and run on my own as a warm-up before running the scheduled distance for the Team 12.4 runners.  This last Saturday morning, Team 12.4 met at Lloyd Kurtz Park for their first 4 mile run.  During my warm-up, I decided to run from Lloyd Kurtz Park to Ada Hayden, run the figure 8 through the park and run back to the park.  This gave me about 5 miles prior to meeting up with the rest of the group.  During this portion of my run, I was in my own head and really able to focus on the purpose of this run.  Despite the light drizzle and the 40 degree temperatures, this was sure to be an amazing run!!

Mental training became a key focus during the first 5 miles of my run.  Affirmations…I can/will handle any obstacle that comes my way…I eat hills for breakfast…I am strong…I am tough…I experience great joy when I run…I am at peace when I run.  Mantra…Think strong, be strong, finish strong.  Visualization…I see myself focused on my goal while running…I see myself finishing pain free, strong, and confident.  This got me thinking about “Pride” from the movie Cool Runnings:

While running in solitude, I reconnected with nature and encountered lots of wildlife…red-winged black birds, robins, deer (right on the path and they didn’t move when I ran past them), geese, mallards, trout (there was a man fishing under the bridge I ran over who caught one just as I was passing overhead), a stray cat, squirrels, rabbits…so peaceful…

Run aloneWhat will I encounter tomorrow morning while running in solitude???  Nature…peace…focus…time for mental training…the possibilities are endless!!

White Smoke vs. Black Smoke

With the recent vote of the new Pope, there was a lot of talk about whether we would see white smoke or black smoke after each vote.  In order for a the new Pope to be installed, the eligible cardinals vote and a majority must be reached (2/3 +1).  The ballots are burned after each vote.  The cardinals vote in isolation, so the way they communicate with the public on the election of a new Pope is through the release of smoke from the chimney in the conclave room.  Black smoke = no new Pope…White smoke = new Pope elected.

Black smoke over the Vatican from the chimney in the conclave room. No new Pope was elected.
White smoke over the Vatican from the chimney in the conclave room. A new Pope has been elected.

This similar analogy can be used to illustrate the mental perspective while training and racing endurance events.  Black smoke = negative attitude…White smoke = positive attitude.

When your body is under physical duress, you can fall to the whims of the “black smoke” or you can adjust your attitude and succumb to the “white smoke” mentality.  If you fall to the whims of the black smoke, you are allowing the negative, unhelpful internal chatter to win out.  Your body will always say it is tired or it hurts all of the time in endurance training and racing.  Your mind must succumb to the white smoke and do those things you never thought possible.  The key is to extinguish the fire that burns that black smoke.

no negative thoughts

Our mind sets up 100% of the perceptions of our experiences via external stimuli, our past, various aspects of our current mindset and stuff we just plain make up.  All of this information runs through our brain each moment like an internal twitter feed.  This internal twitter feed can be clouded with the negative black smoke or the positive white smoke.  Regardless of the case, we become what we think and our thoughts generate our actions.  When that infamous black smoke starts to infiltrate the brain, it is important to break up the race/workout, self-talk, include affirmations and include imagery into your race/workout to draw your mind back to the white smoke.

  • Break up the race/workout:  Focus on making it through the next 5 minutes, or the next mile.  Once you get to that point, you can reevaluate.  At this point, you can then focus on the next 5 minutes or the next mile and then you can reevaluate.  This “mental game” you start to play with yourself will pull you to the finish!!
  • Self Talk:  “I came here today to do my best in this event (or workout).  I will do my best.”  “I may be struggling, but I am going to keep moving forward.”  “I may be struggling, but I will reevaluate where I’m at in 5 more minutes.”  “I am going to push through and I will finish strong.”  “I will do this.”  “I will conquer this pain.”
  • Affirmations:  “I am strong.”  “I can do this.”  “I am the best.”  “I am a winner.”  “Today is my day.”  “I am fast.”
  • Imagery:  When I feel that black smoke start to invade my brain, I push it aside and visualize myself doing the best I’ve ever done and feeling the best I’ve ever felt.  This takes some practice.  You have to already know when you did your best and when you felt your best.  You need to practice visualizing yourself in these experiences, so when that black smoke starts to invade the brain, you can easily switch your brain to these previous white smoke experiences.

 The key to being able to properly access the white smoke is to train your brain each and every day.  The biggest game in endurance sport is the mental game!!  If you focus on the white smoke, you WILL have the best race/workout of your life!!

Henry Ford