Just keep telling yourself that...

This week one of my training walks included an ascent of Mount Kaukau as part of the session for the day.  It wasn't a huge walk, especially compared to what we're going to be faced with on our Oxfam Trainwalk, but it was what I had planned to do for the day.  As far as how the walk went, I was very pleased with how I got through it.  The main reason I was happy was that some new things I incorporated into my mindset on this walk worked well for me. 

The first little tactic was when the going got tough as I was climbing up the Johnsonville side of Mount Kaukau I simply started smiling.  Now, I'm sure this may have looked weird to anyone who saw it happen, but I don't really care about that, I just wanted to see what impact it might have on me mentally.  And I can report that it made things easier.  I struggled less with wanting to rest and definitely found it easier to keep moving up towards the summit.

It makes sense really, studies have shown that smiling increases dopamine and serotonin which have an impact on stress and feelings of happiness so it would follow that smiling when things get difficult can keep you in a good frame of mind.  And this worked for me on this training walk so I am going to add it to my arsenal to use when things get difficult on our 100km walk in March (and other training sessions too).

Another thing I did was simply repeating a mantra over and over to myself in my head.  It wasn't particularly special or nuanced, all it was was "I don't stop when it gets tough, I stop when I'm done".  This may seem cheesy (believe me the first few times I said it to myself it certainly felt cheesy), but as the walk progressed and my legs tired, I went back to this thought over and over again and it helped me keep moving towards my end goal.  

How we talk to ourselves is extremely important, especially when it comes to physical challenges.  As the famous Henry Ford quote says, "If you think you can, or think you can't, you're right".  I often see this in my personal training clients, especially when they are lifting heavy weights or pushing through limits where they haven't been before.  I often see them give in before the set has even started - I can almost read their minds sometimes, they just talk themselves out of getting the weight up before they even try.  Then what happens?  They fail the lift.  Because their mind told them that they would.  Not necessarily because they can't physically move the weight.

Talking to ourselves in a positive and uplifting manner can help us get through tough situations, but it takes practice.  It isn't something that you do once and magically can take on superhuman feats of endurance and strength.  It takes repeated efforts over time.  So be a good coach to yourself - get into your own head a bit and tell yourself that you can do things, even if you don't necessarily believe yourself the first few times.  Just keep that positivity going and you'll be amazed at what you can achieve.

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