Last week I was coaching a client and she said something so profound that I need to share it with you. She’s done several half marathons in the past and is currently training for the Seattle Rock-n-Roll in June.
In her own words, she’s half-assed her training for every other race. This time she’s approaching things differently.
“I don’t really care about setting a PR. I want to see what it’s like to run a race after I’ve done all the training. I want to see how I show up on race day when I’m prepared and confident.”
I am in love with this approach—because it so aligns with my own philosophy on setting big goals as a means to evolve.
Big, motherfucking, audacious goals. You know I’m obsessed with them.
It feels amazing to say, “I’m gonna do this epic thing!”
We get a hit of adrenaline just thinking about it. It’s addictive.
Go ahead, try it. Think of a crazy-ass accomplishment that you’ve always wished you could do, but thought it was out of reach. Something other people do, but you know it’s because they’re a special unicorn.
Maybe it’s a marathon. Or writing a book. Or starting a business.
Whatever it is, just close your eyes for a moment and IMAGINE.
Crossing that finish line. Holding your finished book in your hands. Cutting the ribbon on the opening day of your new business.
Don’t get all wrapped up in “yeah, but it will never happen.”
It feels pretty good, right?
Now say it out loud. I’m going to “run a marathon, write a book, start a business.”
Say it like you mean it. Like you believe it with all your heart.
THAT feels fucking awesome, yes?
It’s like seeing into the future.
That’s why setting a big, motherfucking audacious goal is so fun—because it gives us a glimpse into what the future could be like.
For a moment, you suspend all your bullshit stories and excuses and just live in that future moment of sheer excitement.
Clearly seeing the amazing reality you could create for yourself. It’s beautiful. Life will be perfect!
And then it all comes crashing back down to earth.
Why? Because you believe you’ll never follow through, you’ll give up like you always do, everything will go wrong, someone/something will get in your way.
Why even bother dreaming, because you’re just going to quit on yourself? It’s better to keep your expectations low so you don’t have to live with disappointment.
I HEAR YOU, SISTER.
I’ve been doing that to myself for years with this marathon goal.
Every year I say, “THIS IS THE YEAR, GODDAMMIT,” and then somewhere along the line I quit on myself before I even start, with a million excuses.
This year I’m not committing to the goal of the marathon. Instead, I’m committing to doing all the mental and physical work to evolve myself into someone who believes she can and she will.
Mental Training Is Key
A marathon is 90% mental training and 10% physical training.
Unfortunately, most people do just the opposite: they spend 90% of their effort planning out the physical training and only 10% attending to their brains.
What does that mental training look like? Here’s a start:
Figuring out why you want to do the race, and making sure you like those reasons.
Understanding that you will have daily excuses not to train—and planning out how you will respond to all of them.
Creating backup plans for your backup plans when your life starts to intrude on your training time.
And the biggest one—creating a rock-solid belief system for yourself that keeps you moving forward even when you want to quit.
Quick note—if you want help with any of these things, check out these podcasts:
- Episode 33: How to Coach Yourself
- Episode 46: How to Believe in Yourself
- Episode 67: How to Stop Self-Sabotage
- Episode 80: Finding Your Why (How to Stay Motivated)
How I’m Changing My Beliefs about Running
Right now I’m deep into creating my own rock-solid belief system. I journal about it every morning—first, trying to ferret out the limiting beliefs that have caused my failure in the past, and then crafting a new belief system that I know will lead me to the result I want.
But here’s the kicker—the result I’m working on is not a successful marathon.
It’s SHOWING UP FOR MY RACE FULLY PREPARED.
I can’t control what happens on race day, but I CAN control what I do when I’m preparing.
And guess what? That’s where all my mental training will be focused.
Here’s a snippet of this morning’s journaling session—and if you want to learn more about how this method works, check out episode 33 of the podcast.
I started by pulling a thought from my daily thought download that I know is getting in my way: “I’ll probably give up in the summer, or worse, procrastinate until it’s too late.”
When I think that thought, I feel defeated, and the action I take is to procrastinate making my training plan and putting the runs on my calendar. I also end up eating a lot of junk food to make myself feel better, and those foods make my joints ache, which means running hurts and I don’t do my long runs.
The result of that is I don’t get my training done and don’t even show up on race day.
OH, HELL NO.
That’s the path I’ve gone down in previous years, and just by doing a little mental digging I can see that believing I’ll just give up on myself is causing me to do exactly that.
So instead of allowing that shitty belief system (which is just a thought I’ve practiced over and over) to dictate my success, I’m crafting a new belief system that will get me where I want to be.
My INTENTIONAL thinking pattern starts with deciding that I want to see what’s possible for me when I push out of my comfort zone.
When I think that way, I feel DETERMINED. And a little curious, too. When I feel determined and curious, I plan my training and just fucking do it. And the result is that I show up for my race prepared.
Now, here’s the thing. That new thought will take practice. It doesn’t feel automatic to me right now, and that’s OK.
I’ll think the new belief to myself when I’m running. I’ll journal about the ways I can step out of my comfort zone. I’ll write down how it feels and what happens when I stop creating excuses.
The feeling I want to have throughout my training is determined. So I’ll be adding to today’s belief with other thoughts that make me feel that way—and practicing those thoughts.
Changing how you think doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not magic; it takes work and practice. Just like training for a marathon. This is what I teach all my Run Your Best Life community members: changing your brain is the start of every training plan.
Now you tell me: What beliefs have you changed about yourself and why?