Change your attitude — in running and in life

  • This was printed in October of 2013 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 22nd installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

“Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your running buddy.”

Let that sink in.

I read this quote on Facebook several weeks ago and it has stuck with me; now I find

every opportunity to share it with others.

All too often we put ourselves down or don’t give ourselves the credit we’re due, be it in

running or in life. But I’ve taken this quote to heart and I’ve promised myself to follow it

forever.

Imagine turning to a running buddy and saying, “You can’t do this; it’s too hard,” or “You

can’t run a marathon, why even try?” or “You don’t look like a real runner,” or simply

“You’re slow.”

I cringe thinking about it. I would never say that to another person. Most of us wouldn’t.

But too many of us have no problem saying those kinds of things to ourselves, obviously

not out loud, but in our heads. We need to cut that out — seriously. Right now, promise

you’ll never again say something to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a running buddy

(or friend or family member or coworker).

I’ve been pretty good about it since I read that quote, and I can tell you that it’s life

changing. Years of hearing and reading things like “Think positive,” and “Be optimistic”

just never stuck.

The problem is those statements are so vague. The one I’ve shared is like a “how-to”

— it’s something that can be applied in real life.

When I’m running my one-mile or half-mile speed intervals and I catch myself thinking,

“You can’t keep up with them” I remember that I wouldn’t say that to another runner. In

that instant I stop the negative thought and replace it with what I would say to a running

buddy: “You can keep up with them. Go; push yourself. You can do this.” And I do it.

When I look in the mirror and think, “Wow, I’m skinny. I look like I’m 12,” I remember

the quote and I stop. I replace those thoughts with, “Wow, you’re fit and healthy! Your

muscle tone is amazing and your legs have never looked better” — because that is

exactly what I would say to the ladies in my running group.

Why should we be ashamed to feel good about ourselves? It’s not wrong to pay yourself a

compliment.

This line of thinking goes beyond running and working out.

The other day I accidentally pinched my 1-year-old son’s finger in his car seat buckle. He

cried and I felt horrible. I took him out of the seat, held him close and showered him with

kisses and apologies. In my head I cursed myself and thought, “You are the worst mother!

You should have noticed his finger got in the way!” I was almost in tears myself when I

realized I was doing it again — saying something to myself that I’d never say to someone

else.

So I told myself, “You’re not a bad mom. It was an accident. There’s probably not a

parent alive who hasn’t accidentally hurt their child at least once.”

My son obviously forgave me, and I forgave myself.

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