What is self-talk?
Self-talk is what we say to ourselves in response to any particular situation that mainly determines our mood and feelings.
What does it have to do with running or my life?
Imagine two runners on their Tuesday night run in a Vancouver rain storm. One runner perceives herself as rushed, wet and miserable, and says things to herself like, “I can’t do this” or “this hill is too big tonight.” What she feels is frustration, anger and maybe even failure. The other runner perceives the situation as an opportunity to do something for herself or a chance to wash away the stress of her day. She says statements to herself like, “you got this”, “you feel strong on this hill” or “nothing is going to hold me down.” She feels motivated and a sense of accomplishment. In both cases, the situation is exactly the same, but the feelings in response to that situation are vastly different because of each individual’s internal monologue, or self-talk.
This example illustrates the difference between negative and positive self-talk. The impact of negative self-talk can result in slower run pace, negative mood during/after run and on race day can mean performing below your physical potential.
The impacts of self-talk are prevalent in all areas of life (running being only one aspect). Most of us are really good at negative self-statements and people often tell me that they would never speak to their best-friend the way they speak internally to themselves. This needs to change for the sake of our mental wellness! We all need to learn to be more compassionate and caring towards ourselves as it will help energize you in all areas of your life.
Steps to Counter Negative Self-talk
- Notice. “Catch yourself in the act” of engaging in negative self-talk. Be aware of the situations that are likely to be precipitated by negative self-talk. (Example, when you are running up a steep hill or near the end of a long run).
- Stop. Ask yourself the following questions: “What am I telling myself that is making me feel this way?” or “Do I really want to do this to myself?”
- Practice Positive Self-Talk. Create some positive, rational and self-supportive statements. For example, “I got this” or “I feel strong” or “I am going to have an awesome race” or “I am going to crush this hill.” Coming up with positive self-statements or mantras before you head out for your run (or do anything) is crucial. It also contributes to our mind-body connection which increases mental wellbeing. When my negative self-talk takes over I often notice my pace slow down and running feels like hard work. Once I start using my positive statements I notice my pace picks up without any added physical effort!
Create your positive self-talk mantra today! If you need some ideas let me know.
Practicing positive self-talk is important in all areas of your life and contributes to mental wellness, it can be the first step towards decreasing feelings of anxiety and depression.