Growth or Fixed…Which one are you????

I have been reading “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

This book looks at people in all walks of life…business, sports, relationships, parents, teachers, coaches, etc.  Are people in each of these walks of life of the growth mindset, the fixed mindset, or both?  I am going to address the differences between growth and fixed mindsets as they relate to sports…

Growth mindset = Great Athletes

Athletes with the growth mindset…

  • “Focus on self-development, self-motivation and responsibility”
  • “Find success in learning and improving, not just winning.”
  • Have “character, heart and the mind of a champion.”
  • Look at setbacks as a way to motivate them to work harder and become better athletes.
  • Are “not constantly trying to prove they are better than others.  Instead, they are constantly trying to improve.”
  • “Look directly at their mistakes, use feedback and alter their strategies accordingly to improve.”
  • “Maintain a healthy sense of confidence.”
  • “Dig deep, face challenges and keep growing.”
  • Believe their “skills can grow with experience and effort.”
  • Ask questions like, “What can I learn from this?  How can I improve?”

Fixed mindset = Star Athletes

Athletes with the fixed mindset…

  • Have “natural” ability and allow their ego to drive their behaviors.
  • Believe they “have to be somebody or they’ll be a nobody.”
  • Allow setbacks to define them.
  • Believe “some people are superior and some people are inferior.”
  • Have a “gargantuan personal ego.
  • “Want to be the only big fish so that when they compare themselves to those around them, they can feel a cut above the rest.”
  • “Refuse to look at their deficiencies” and only focus on what they are good at.
  • Often resort to the key weapons of “blame, excuses and the stifling of critics and rivals” for why they are not at the top.
  • Believe, “My talent defines and validates me.”
  • “Like to use their strengths…to achieve quick, dramatic results, even if…they aren’t developing the new skills they will need later on.”
  • Have a “smug and elitist attitude.”
  • Believe “you either have it or you don’t.”
  • Are “judgmental.”  They constantly judge and critique where they are in their sport often comparing themselves to others, but don’t try to make changes or improvements.

We are human beings…we are not solely of the fixed mindset or the growth mindset.  There are areas of our lives where we tend to think with the fixed mindset and other areas of our lives where we tend to think with the growth mindset.


Are there sports you always assumed you were bad at?  Is there a sport that came easily to you until you hit a wall?  Where do you incorporate growth mindset into your sport?  How can you incorporate more growth mindset beliefs and behaviors into your sport?

Just Believe

With the Holidays upon us and Christmas just around the corner, many parents are hopeful that their young ones will believe in Santa Claus, Elf on the Shelf, the true meaning of Christmas and paying it forward to those around them.  While these are all very important, I would like to add another very important thing for us to believe in…ourselves.


As endurance athletes, it is critical to our success that we believe in our own abilities, our training, our coach, our nutrition plan, our race day plan…ourselves.  When you truly believe in yourself, success is yours!!

My Race of Good Karma

Drake 1

Last Sunday I ran the Drake 1/2 Marathon

Pre-Race Photo:  Tracy, Jeff, Deb, my handsome gent and me
Pre-Race Photo: Tracy, Jeff, Deb, my handsome gent and me

We had perfect race conditions…53 degrees, sunny skies, winds SSW at 12 mph…where did this April weather come from?!?!?!  In years past the Drake 1/2 Marathon has been known for cold, rain and wind…definitely not like this morning!!  I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it…the weather forecast for the next couple of days has rain, sleet and SNOW in the forecast.  UGH!!!  SNOW in May?!?!?!?  I’m ready for Mother Nature to get an attitude adjustment…Mother Nature, it’s time for a POSITIVE attitude!!

Let's do this thing!!
Let’s do this thing!!

Back to my race report…My typical race strategy is to hold back for the first half of a race and then pick up the pace to finish strong.  Sunday I decided to take an unusual approach to my race:  start out fast and see how long I can hold on.  While most coaches and athletes don’t recommend this, I wanted to see just how hard I could push myself and see just how long I could maintain it.

Drake 1:2 Marathon CourseIn looking at the race profile, I knew the last couple of miles would be a challenge, so I decided to lay it out on the line and see what I could do from the start.  I strategically placed myself a little bit behind the 1:45 pacer, with the hopes that I would finish between 1:45 and 1:48.  I ran my first mile at an 8:17 pace and I was feeling really good about starting easy…well easier than I had planned 🙂

I kept my sites on the 1:45 pacer and ran my second mile at an 8:06 pace.  This was getting closer to the pace I was hoping to maintain for the entire race.  I was feeling GREAT, but I was still going downhill.  Miles 3 and 4 continued to be successful…my pace for mile 3 was a 7:57 and for mile 4 was 8:07…I still had the 1:45 pacer in my sites!!  At mile 5 my brain started to wander…I began to realize just how much I disliked the new course.  In years past, the route went through scenic residential neighborhoods, but this new route was very industrialized and definitely not the beauty I remembered. I was still on track though as my pace was holding strong at 8:11.  The true test was just ahead…the hills around capital square.

Mentally I was strong and knew I could maintain a good strong pace.  Mile 6 was an 8:22 pace followed by a relatively flat boring section as we went past Principal Park (Iowa Cubs stadium) and ventured out to Gray’s Lake.  Again my mind started to wander and tell my body to quit pushing so hard, but I quickly overcame these thoughts and maintained an 8:07 pace for mile 7 and an 8:17 pace for mile 8.  My race changed during mile 9…I ran upon a friend who was walking and this is where “My Race of Good Karma” began.

Kelly was struggling.  My brain was going a mile a minute…should I help her finish, or push on to see what I could do with this race…if I help her, I will give up a PR…if I don’t help her, will I regret it…what do I do?!?!?  The good samaritan in me won out.  I slowed my pace to help Kelly finish.  My mile 9 split was an 8:31 pace, followed by an 8:29 pace for mile 10 and a 9:02 pace for mile 11.  This is where some of those climbs began.  Kelly continued to struggle, but I reminded her to shorten her stride, lean into the hills and breathe as we climbed.  Our mile 12 split was a 9:24 pace followed by an 8:49 pace for mile 13.  The course was a little long, so the last 0.31 of a mile had an average pace of 7:32 as we sprinted around the Blue Oval to the finish line in 1:52:05…not the PR I was hoping for, but Good Karma in the bank!!

My "Good Karma" finisher medal with my race number
My “Good Karma” finisher medal with my race number

Looking back I am very happy that I helped another runner finish.  I am questioning how much of her struggles were physical and how much were mental as she was able to finish really strong.  Mental training is a component that many athletes overlook, yet it is just as important as the physical training and nutritional training that comes with race preparation.  Mental training will be a topic for another day…

body achieves mind believes

I am hopeful that “My Race of Good Karma” will come back to bite me when I need it most!!

Lucky Charms

Four leaf clover

With St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in full force, spring around the corner and a variety of races occurring nearly every weekend, it got me thinking about race rituals and “good luck charms” athletes use to help get them in the racing mindset.

Some people have a pair of “lucky socks” or a “lucky hat” that they wear for every race.  Some people have the ritual of setting out their race gear the night before the race to make sure they are fully prepared for the coming race.  Some people eat the same meal (oatmeal with peanut butter and chocolate chips or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) before each race.  To some people, the race number is their key to success…936 is a “lucky number” because 3+6=9…or they feel lucky if they have a race number that is even.  Some people shave…removing their hair “makes them faster.”  Some people listen to music while they are waiting for the race to start…heavy metal to wake up the body…classical to calm the nerves.  Some people think and say words that are positive…self talk and affirmations.

Most athletes have something that they do to help relax them before their race and get them in the racing mindset that works best for them.  What “lucky charms” do you have to get you in your racing mindset?

My "lucky charm" was given to me by a strong, beautiful woman and an amazing friend!!
My “lucky charm” was given to me by a strong, beautiful woman and an amazing friend!!