This post was originally part of Episode 310 released in September of 2016 and is more or less copied and pasted from that post. The audio, however, is a completely new take on the topic.
It may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but I don’t listen to very many running podcasts.
I promise I’ve got nothing against the other running shows that are out there. I just don’t tend to really get into other running shows.
What I do get into, however, are business/entrepreneurial types of podcasts.
One quote that I hear on these types of shows is from Jim Rohn.
The idea behind the quote is that if you surround yourself with people that will build you up, you’ll blossom and grow.
And if you are surrounded by people with negative energy, they will drag you down.
What is often overlooked is the fact that the voice in your head is one of your five.
What Do You Say to Yourself?
I don’t know about you, but the voice in my head is seldom a positive voice.
I am overly critical of myself, from my business to my running and at all points in between.
But I’m getting better.
In the past year or so, I’ve really been trying to change the voice in my head from that of a hater to becoming more of a lover.
The inner hater still comes out more often than I’d like, but I’m definitely starting to see the results of my efforts.
Hush Your Inner Hater
If you struggle with an overly critical voice inside your head, here are some things you can do to help quiet the hater inside you.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others:
I love social media as much as the next guy or gal, but I will never measure up to other runners on social media. I don’t know how many times I’ve been scrolling through Twitter and seen screen shots of a Garmin (or even a treadmill display) that had some un-Godly statistics on it and thought about how I wished I could run like that person.
And don’t even get me started with Strava or any of the other “share your run” social media channels!
I love that we are able to connect with other runners and “see” the places they are running. However, seeing what others are doing can spark a competitiveness inside us that can cause us to want to do more.
But doing more can (and often does) lead to injuries.
By sticking to your training plan and running the distances/paces you should be running, it may foster a feeling of inadequacy that you’re not “as good” of a runner as some of your online connections.
Social media is a great tool for connecting with other runners, but it’s absolutely terrible for silencing your inner hater.
Use social media for that which it does best: connecting you with other runners.
Just don’t compare yourself to those you’re connected with, because you will never measure up.
Set Goals that are Completely Within Your Control:
I learned a lot in my chat with Tere Zacher earlier this week, and one of the things that stood out most to me is the importance of setting goals that are within your control. In the past, I felt like I had been setting these types of goals, but after talking with Tere I’m not so sure.
I have often set time goals, in part because I felt like I had control over those types of goals.
But the more I think about it, the less I believe that we are fully in control of our finish times at races.
How are we not in complete control of our finish times?
- Course crowding/bottlenecking can significantly slow/quicken your pace which can dramatically impact how you’ll feel 5, 10, or 20+ miles later
- An unexpected change in the weather (hot, cold, rain, wind) is definitely beyond your control
- How your stomach reacts to your fueling/hydration strategy, even if you plan everything out and try it in advance, can completely screw up what was looking like a great race
And that list can continue on and on.
If you set a goal that is beyond your complete control and you fail to make it, you are giving your inner hater all the ammunition s/he needs to attack like crazy.
“Never mind the fact that you PRd that day, you still didn’t place in your age group you LOSER!”
Anyone else ever have those kind of thoughts pass through your head after a race, or am I the only one?
It may seem like encouraging others would have little to do with silencing your inner hater, but it will definitely help.
First and foremost, if you become quicker to speak kindly to others you’ll likely find it easier to speak kindly to yourself as well.
In addition, a word of encouragement to others may be exactly what is needed at that moment to help them shut up their inner hater.
Once our inner haters get going, it can be a very vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to stop. But a simple complement from a friend, or even a complete stranger, can be all that is needed to break the cycle of negativity going on within our head.
Think of this as like a “Give a Penny, Take a Penny” tray at the gas station.
On the days that you feel fantastic about your run, make sure you leave a few “pennies” of encouragement in the tray for others to use because there will be a day (probably soon) when your hater is on fire and you badly need a few “pennies” from others to help you turn the tide in your mind.
Practice Positive Self-Talk:
This may sound a little woo-woo, but hear me out.
When was the last time you said something positive to yourself?
If you’re like me, the ratio of negative thoughts to positive thoughts is about 1000:1.
Point blank: it feels awkward.
If we can warm up to the idea of speaking positively to ourselves more often, we are effectively shutting up the voice of our hater.
So instead of berating yourself for cutting a workout short, failing to negative split, or any of the other running “sins” that we are great at chastising ourselves for, try speaking kindly to yourself about the things you did well in that particular workout.
- “Good job recognizing that your form was failing and your mental focus was spent, and then having the courage to shorten your run instead of continuing on and risking injury.”
- “Way to keep pushing on the second half of your tempo run. You may not have hit the goal of a negative split but you didn’t give up when you were hurting. You’ll nail it next time for sure!”
- “Don’t worry about sleeping through your alarm and missing your run this morning. Clearly you needed the extra rest.”
It may sound a little out there, and it might seem difficult at first, but if you make the effort to speak more positively to yourself you may find yourself amazed at how rarely you hear from your inner hater.
Start right now.
Say something positive to yourself about your most recent run, no matter how trivial it may seem.
Difficult? That’s fine.
It’ll get easier the more you practice.
How do You Silence Your Inner Hater?
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