I was waffling on whether I was going to run or just hike the Quarry Rock trail.
The plan for this day was to hike up once, run down, run up and hike down, it had been the plan since the start of the week.
I woke up at 7:30 am, got prepped, headed out and arrived at the trail head at 8:30 am. It was a perfect day, the trail was uncrowded and I was feeling good. All reasons to stick to the plan.
I started on the trail with my dog, Huxley, there is no waffling in his mind it was a run.
The little guy is decisive!
When the hike began, my quads hurt, my toe hurt (broke my baby toe a week or two ago running on the same trail), my head hurt and I had no energy.
That is when the voice in my head started.
“You were out with friends last night and ate like crap, don’t worry about it you need to have a crappy morning every once in a while, just hike it.”
“You only got five and a half hours of sleep, don’t worry just go easy.”
“You have to pick up a friend’s dog at 10 am, if you do it twice you might be late.”
“You’re tired, listen to your body, just go one lap.”
Why couldn’t I have just followed Huxley’s lead!
Time to use something I had taught in my coaching career time and time again; I needed to adjust my self talk.
Strategy one – Redirect
I had gotten more than enough sleep during the two nights before last.
Yesterday was a rest day, as far as running went.
My body was healthy and I knew that any pain I was feeling wasn’t destructive.
And if I ran at the speed I usually do there is no way I would be late.
So I decided to stick to the plan; phew strategy one worked, “I love it when a plan comes together!”
I spoke way too soon! As usual that damn voice kept chirping, as I got to the top of one hill, as the lactate built up in my legs and as my head pounded from a little too much beer the night before, the voice never stopped giving me reasons why I shouldn’t run.
Strategy two – Thought Stopping (or as I like to put it, tell your voice to shut the !@#$ up!!)
Tune it out, tell it off and literally tell it to shut up!!
After I started on my way back up the trail, I felt great, I felt strong, I felt motivated and when I finished the run I couldn’t have been happier with the decision and the process.
Self talk is something we all do, almost every minute of every day, being able to direct that voice in our head is a learned skill. This is something that athletes work on everyday and is one of the reasons why they train as hard as they do.
It is deliberate practice, they know when the time comes to perform that they will have a voice chirping in their ear, but what have they trained it to say? For some they will have developed a voice of confidence and support. For others they will have to confront doubt and use strategies they have practiced in training to defeat that doubt.
This is a skill that helps many to achieve success. Like any other skill it takes practice to develop.
I challenge you to bring a little more awareness to your own self talk, to practice the skill of adjusting and directing it in deliberate ways so that when you are faced with a much more important challenge than whether to walk or run a forest trail, you will have the proficiency to use it to your advantage.