How To Overcome Negative Thoughts
This week on The Smart Runner Podcast I’m taking a look at how to overcome negative thoughts. It’s something that many of you have told me you struggle with so I hope this simple system will help.
Negative thinking will have a detrimental effect on your performance no matter how experienced or talented you are. So the aim of this episode is to offer you a daily practice to help you overcome negative thoughts and re-direct your mind towards achieving of your marathon goals.
Links From The Show
In this episode of The Smart Runner Podcast we’ll be looking at;
- What mantras are and how to use them
- How to correct your breathing
- Why meditation helps you overcome negative thoughts
- How to picture the end result
- Why you are the only one who needs convincing
- How to mentally prepare for success
- How to remain consistent
- Why determination will get you far
Reversing Negative Self Talk
You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. In other words, you can not get a good result from a bad journey and so if your mind is filled with negative self talk it will destroy your chances of success every single time.
If you spend your time focused on all your perceived limitations, faults and inabilities then that’s what you enhance. No one who ever achieved something did so by thinking they were no good.
If you spend your time focused on your best bits, enhance them and grow them, then the better self image you create and the more likely you are to win (whatever winning means to you).
It’s mind over matter, and these fundamental sports psychology principles can help you get exactly where you want to go, or not, depending on which side of the coin you decide to focus on.
Dr. Andrew Friesen, PhD Certified Mental Trainer: Canadian Sport Psychology Association says;
“There is no construct of human psychology and functioning more prevalent in sport than emotion. Mood, emotions, and general affect can influence every movement in every sport.”
How you think about your own ability will affect your emotional state, and your emotional state will in turn affect your performance.
The key thing to remember is, no matter what your circumstances are, it’s you that is in charge and you can change your emotional state by choosing different thoughts.
Practice Makes Marathon Perfect
The mind is the most powerful tool you possess and the measure of your success will be the extent to which you direct its contents, not only in marathon but life in general.
Positive mental conversation doesn’t come easily to most of us, we need to work to develop it. So just like training your body to become stronger, you must train your mind overcome negative thoughts and become stronger.
If you notice you have a predisposition to negative thinking then that’s a good thing, most don’t even notice. So now you can begin to make conscious effort to correct it.
Check out these 9 tips to overcome negative thoughts and developing a positive thinking practice;
#1 Prepare Your Mindset Training Plan
The first step in developing a positive mindset around your running is to make a training plan. Much like you train your body to run, you’ll use this plan to train your mind.
Take a sheet of A4 paper and write on the top “My Marathon Mindset Training Plan”. Then under that write your goal, be that to simply finish the marathon or achieve a time.
“Complete Dublin City Marathon 20xx in 3hrs 29 mins” or whatever that is for you.
#2 Use A Running Mantra
Next write a subheading: My Running Mantra. Write under this what I call your “Power Statement”. This is an I Am statement and it is your secret weapon when things get tough out there.
Choose powerful words that describe who you are. So for example you might write: “I am powerful, easy, fast and strong”. Say this over and over again as you run until you almost enter a trance.
This statement has got me through many a tough day on the road and can help you overcome negative thoughts too.
#3 Focus Your Breathing
Creating a rhythm to your breath acts to create a state of mind that shuts out everything else other than that which you are doing. So in the case of running, it allows you complete focus on that task with no distractions.
So here, simply write on your list “I focus on my breath when I run”. When you run try to keep your breath in time with your feet striking the ground and vice versa.
For every 3 or 4 steps you take an in-breath, then for the next 3 or 4 steps you exhale. You’ll need to practice this to find a rhythm that works for you.
#4 Quiet Your Mind
Meditation has become a very trendy practice, and for good reason. It can be very helpful in allowing you focus. I use meditation daily and I find it helps me start the day off on the right foot.
Choose to take 15 mins at the start of the day and last thing before you retire to quiet the mind. Sit upright and pick something simple to focus on, like a clock ticking or the fridge humming.
You might need to set a timer to snap you out of it if you get into the flow. If so that’s fine. At night if you drift off to sleep that’s cool too.
#5 Affirm To Yourself Who You Are
Positive affirmation is a recognised method in developing a winning mindset and one that’s advocated by sports psychologists all over the world.
Affirmations can be written, spoken out loud, or uttered in the quiet of your mind. Write down 4 or 5 I Am statements describing yourself as you wish to be.
So for example you might state; “I am a 3:30:00 marathon runner”, “I am a marathon runner”, “I am a strong and powerful marathon runner”, “Running marathons is easy for me”, and so on.
Repeat these many times daily to yourself. Try doing so in the mirror too, and eventually you’ll begin to believe it.
#6 Journal Daily
Write in your journal every day. Tell how you expect the day to go and write in positive terms, never negative. As you pre-pave your way like this you’ll see your mindset shift to more positive things.
Do so again at night while you reflect on the events of the day. Regardless of circumstances, look for positives in your day and record them in your journal.
Check out Best Self Journal. It’s designed for goal setting, staying focused and getting things done.
#7 Visualise The End Result
Visualisation is another sports psychology tactic that some of the most prominent sports people use to achieve their goals. Seeing the result you wish to experience it trains the brain to notice things to help you get there.
There’s nothing hocus pocus about this practice, or any of these practices in fact, despite some self-help sources painting them as such. Visualisation works by allowing you to consciously re-design your own neural connections in the brain.
See the finish line, see the time you want, see your friends and family congratulating you at the finish. See the end result as you wish it to be and you’ll train your body and mind to find exactly that.
Perform your visualisation several times a day whenever you have some privacy.
#8 Become Determined
Without determination to succeed you will not. There is momentum of circumstance and too many others that will try to convince you of your inadequacy if you let them.
It’s nobody’s fault per se, it’s just how your previous habits have set things up. So now you’ve got a new goal you need to set up a new momentum.
Get in with two feet and regardless of how things go, stick to the plan. Don’t give up.
#9 Remain Consistent In Your Practice
To reach your marathon goal you must become consistent in your effort. If you really want to replace the habit of negative thinking with a new set of positive habits you’ve got to stick to the plan.
Download the Mental Training Guide below and set out your Mental Training Plan. This will be your tool kit that turns things around and helps you overcome negative thoughts for good.
Do it! it works 🙂
Have you used any of the practices I’ve mentioned here? How did it affect your performance? I’d love to hear how you got on. Let me know in the comments below how you use positive psychology to better your marathon performance.
Need help putting your practice into place? Get in touch with me here