Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Giving a Runner a Pep Talk (and a giveaway!)

This post contains an affiliate link.

It's no secret to my regular readers that running has not been fun for me the past couple of months. In fact, running has pretty much sucked for me. There it is. I've said it.

Since my speedy 10 miler in April, it's like the pod people came in the night and sucked all the endurance out of me. I mean, how else can I explain my precipitous decline in my running times?

All joking aside, my ego has really taken a hit. Fortunately, there are people in my world who get it and give me a lift when I needed it. Funny how that happens, right? I wanted to share some of the tidbits that I picked up this week.



On the urging of my CrossFit coach Sammy Jo, I attended a Performance Psychology workshop at the CrossFit box. The hour-long seminar was presented by 4 of the coaches, including Jim Inman, who is an accomplished endurance athlete with multiple Ironman and marathon finishes, along with other endurance events, and my coach, Sammy Jo. I found this workshop so valuable that I wanted to share some of the key points.

Coach Kate started the seminar by talking about Mindset and Attitude. Participants were encouraged to explore whether or not we have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. The person with a fixed mindset is somewhat fatalistic, thinking that individual fitness is predetermined. Challenges are avoided because that could reveal weaknesses. These people tend to make excuses and blame others for setbacks; they don't seek out help to overcome those problems and feedback is not well received. Fixed mindset people are threatened by other peoples' successes; everything is seen as a competition.


In contrast, a growth-minded person tends to be a hard worker. These people embrace feedback because they see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Obstacles and setbacks are a chance to evaluate, modify, and push forward. Growth-minded people are motivated by other peoples' successes. As you might expect, growth-minded people are high achievers and often exceed expectations. I see myself as a growth-minded person, but it hasn't always been this way. When my confidence is waivering, I can be pretty negative. People can have characteristics of both mindsets, and it can be fluid.

Coach Jeff built on the concept of mindset, talking about Pillars and Priorities. We were given a worksheet to help us identify our pillars, which are qualities in our lives that are important to us. The priorities are those behaviors needed to strengthen our pillars. For example, one of my pillars is family. To strengthen this pillar, over the years I have made sure that we sit down for a family dinner most nights of the week. I've also worked part-time because it was important for me to be around for my boys, even though financially it would have been better for us if I worked full time. Another pillar of mine is health. Everyone's priorities and pillars are different.


Coach Jim talked was about Goal Setting. I loved the quote he used to start this part of the seminar:
"Goal setting is the process of bringing the future into the present so you can take action on it."
I couldn't find the source for this quote and maybe it's Jim but this really resonated with me. Yes, you need the big picture. As we runners like to say: a goal without a plan is just a dream. It's important to break down the goal into a process, which is creating a habit to achieve the goal; and the performance, which is meeting the goal. He gave a great example of when he made a goal to complete an Ironman competition. After reading an article in Sports Illustrated in 1979 (you can chase the link to the original article) about the first Ironman, he set a goal and made a plan to meet his goal. He gave up smoking--yes, that shocked me too!--and started running. After running a couple marathons, he started biking and swimming, and after 10 years completed the first of 4 Ironman competitions. Jim was methodical about his approach but acknowledged that there were some bumps in the road along the way.


Jim also talked about setting SMART goals, which I think a lot of you know about already. To enforce your goals, he suggested having a reward if you accomplish the goal and/or a plan for getting back on track if you don't. For me, crossing the finish line of a long distance event is reward in itself, but I love the medal we receive and I make sure to enjoy that post-race beer. Earning it makes it taste that much better.

Sammy Jo wrapped up the seminar with a talk about Motivation. Motivation is different for everyone and it ties into a person's pillars and priorities. One of my pillars is health and fitness, and that in itself is really motivating for me, especially as I age. Sammy Jo talked a lot about mantras and I had to laugh because I've adopted a new one this past week, Find Your Strong. I do love mantras. In fact, I wear a Momentum Wrap to work every day to remind myself to stay strong and positive.

The key principles of discipline and consistency will always bring you back to your motivation. Consistent behavior over time becomes a habit. Sammy Jo gave the example of making her bed in the morning. It really is amazing that having a seemingly meaningless habit like that can pave the way for becoming more disciplined in other areas of life. For me, putting my workouts on the calendar makes me commit to getting them done. I've got a goal to improve my endurance and to solidify my motivation, I signed up for the next bootcamp as soon as I got home that night.


A resource list was handed out, and all the coaches recommended the podcast or the book Chasing Excellence. While it is a CrossFit-based book, the reviews I've read all talk about how motivating the book is for building mental toughness. I'll be checking that one out.

This seminar gave me plenty of food for thought. Yes, I've been struggling with running and endurance. Maybe I've even felt my motivation flagging. But I am definitely a growth-minded person, and instead of throwing in the towel and quitting (don't let me kid you, I have considered it), I'm exploring other ways to go the distance. This includes using those run/walk intervals to keep me moving. I'm slowing my pace. I'm doing bootcamp once weekly to boost my cardiovascular fitness. By making all these activities a priority, I'm staying true to one of my pillars, which is health and fitness. Habit and commitment will be the way to get to my goal of running strong again.


The Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal? That sub-2 half marathon. In spite of my struggles, I still believe that it is realistically within reach. My motivation comes from knowing that I ran a fast 10 mile race just 4 months ago and that I could have run a sub-2 half that day. I'll do the work because I know it's in me. I'll share the process as we go along. I've got some tricks up my sleeve for this one.

In the meantime, one of the races I've got on the calendar for the fall is Zooma Great Lakes. It's going to be held September 15 in Lake Delavan, Wisconsin, which is near the beautiful resort town of Lake Geneva.


I haven't run a race there ever, so I'm excited for this one! There's a half marathon and a 5k. Can I do the half? Will my body let me? Will my mental strength be enough to power me through? This will not be my goal race but I'd sure like to line up with confidence! Do you want to be there with me and all the other fun ladies?

It's going to be a fun weekend regardless of the outcome. Come and join us for the ultimate girls' weekend. I'm giving away a free race entry for Zooma Great Lakes. All you have to do is enter! If you don't want to wait to see if you won, you can use my code WENDY2018 to save 10% on any Zooma race.

How do you stay on track when your training isn't going well? Are you a growth-minded or fixed-minded person? Have you ever thought about your pillars and priorities and how they impact your life? Any BHAGs? What's your motivation?

I'm linking this post with Tuesdays on the Run aka Marcia, Erika, and Patti and with Running Coaches' Corner with Debbie, Rachel, Marc, and Lora.




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53 comments :

  1. A brilliant post, very inspiring. I've been doing a lot of thinking about my motivation recently. I wanted to run a marathon and I did (two and a DIY one). I want to do an ultra next year. But really I don't like racing. When I went to do my run on Sunday, I got all keyed up about it because it was a training run. If it had just been I fancied running 14 miles, I am sure I would have felt fine. So I need to have a think about whether I'm avoiding racing because I just like running itself, or if there's a negative reason, if that makes sense, and I am still hung up on being slow. My pillar is keeping well mentally and physically. If not having days out with the girls and getting bling means I will keep that, I will do that. My other pillar is service, and so I am really excited about my plan to train as a track and field official.

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    1. Service is a good pillar and wouldn't it be nice if more people made that a priority?

      I agree with you about running just to run vs training for a race. There's so much pressure to get those longs runs in--especially with marathon training. As much as Ioved training for my marathons, I sure don't miss that pressure!

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  2. I always think about the time when I was seriously injured and I thought I would never run again.

    I try not to think about finish time and just have fun.

    Not sure that happens because I am naturally a competitive person.

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    1. I am naturally competitive too, but more with myself than anything. I think that's been the hardest for me to accept, the slowing down.

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  3. This was really helpful, especially the bit about different mind sets!

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    1. I like to think I'm more of the growth mindset but there are always set backs to staying that way. It was good to have the reminder and a way to articulate it to myself.

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  4. I think I am a mixture of mind sets. I do love a challenge, but I have to be honest -- hearing about AGs can make me a little jealous. I'm happy for the person but it can be hard when you've never won one, never come close, probably never will.

    OTOH, I was also stuck at roughly the same pace for my halfs for literally years, despite training hard. I had an absolute conviction I had a better time in me. It took years but I finally did prove that!

    I'm also well aware I can't improve forever; everyone will slow down at some point. But it's actually not all about finish times. It's about staying healthy & active for the rest of my life, hopefully.

    I'm guessing that summer is just not your time for running easy & that when it cools down hopefully your problems will cool down too.

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    1. When you were "stuck", what changed for you? Could it be that you started working with a coach? It's always a good idea to try something new when things aren't going the way you want.

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  5. Setbacks can always teach us something. Mine this spring was "don't skimp on prehab!" I did quite well with it last year, and then didn't do so well this spring. I struggle with some runs too, and I would hope the next one would be better.

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    1. If everything went perfectly, it would be kind of boring, wouldn't it?

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  6. I love this topic! Every runner needs a pep talk at some point in their life. I especially love the quote by Joe Vitale. I've gotta remember than one!

    I have had difficulty dealing with the slowing that comes with ageing too. I am reluctant to accept it, and I fight it every step of the way. Thanks for your insights!

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    1. I have to thank the coaches at Crossfit--they really sparked my motivation and my creativity!

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  7. It's always fun to see what people are pushing themselves towards and you my friend definitely have the motivation so I do believe you will reach your goal.

    That race sounds fun. There are SO many good races going on that weekend but I always tend to stay home and race our Harvest Festival race. It's kind of a tradition.

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    1. I'm excited to run in Lake Geneva--I can't believe I've never done a race there.

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  8. I've heard all of these buzzwords in the corporate world. How cool to have them applied to fitness and personal growth. It is no surprise that the disciplines and habits we used to succeed in one area of life are valuable in others as well. Truly life is SO mental.

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    1. It's funny that you know these terms--when I was preparing the post, I found a lot of background on HR and business pages!

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  9. Wow, that sounds like an amazing seminar, and what a great opportunity! I know for sure you have that sub-2 in you. I also think that other 'little goal' of yours is not far behind!

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  10. I love that "a goal without a plan is just a dream" That resonates with me in so many ways esp lately with this nagging injury. But, what made me seek out different PTs was that very thing. Nobody I was seeing had a plan or a way to progress through this injury. And now I have a very specific plan to get through this injury and return to running with a goal race -Mesa Phoenix Marathon. I am definitely growth minded - I love reading about other runner's success and they just motivate me to work even harder :)

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    1. When I was dealing with PF and I wasn't getting better under the care of the podiatrist, I sought out care from another type of provider, sports medicine. Different approach--sometimes that's all that makes a difference.

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  11. I definitely think I'm a growth-minded person, but I do have some fixed-minded tendencies. I just refuse to let myself go stagnant...I love running, but I have been branching out with other forms of fitness and have really enjoyed the experiences from the past year when I couldn't run for a few months. I discovered that I had a lot more inner strength than I thought possible.

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    1. I think as we get older, we find that inner strength! I know now that running isn't my be all and end all...I have to branch out.

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  12. Sounds like an interesting seminar. I'm definitely a growth-minded person - I'm all for seeking out new solutions to help me to keep moving forward in all areas of life, including running.

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    1. I've been really reaching for solutions to keep me fit while I struggle with running!

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  13. Interesting blog post. I am an ICU nurse and would probably benefit from a Momentum Wrap to remind be to breathe and stay to positive during stressful shifts.

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    1. I wear one daily that says "Positive Energy", but another favorite says "Just Breathe".

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  14. I would run the half marathon. It would be the perfect last long run before my marathon taper starts. :)

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    1. A race is always a good way to get those long miles in!

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  15. I've had that sub-2 half on my long-ish term goals list for a while. On the other hand, about 80-90% of my motivation for doing long runs right now is getting out on the trails. I like to think it'll also be beneficial when I'm ready to train for longer road runs again.

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    1. If I had trails like yours, I'd want for nothing else!

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  16. Wow - this post - well the seminar and your writing about it, feels like a page out of my classroom curriculum! I teach a class I created called "successful support" for students who have performed below-grade level through out middle school and need academic and emotional support as ninth graders. We talk ALL about growth mindset (Carol Dweck did so many studies on this!), SMART goals, AND motivation. SO I LOVED THIS POST - as far as your running - first time stopping by, I think it is KICK ASS you are keeping up with running despite your RA - I have ehler's danlos hypermobility syndrome, so I am chronically injured, and not giving up running. I am on a two month hiatus right now, but my but BHAG is a half marathon in Fall - if my podiatrist doesn't clear me, I'm politely telling him, I'll see you after the race :)

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    1. One of the CrossFit coaches is a teacher, so it makes sense that she talked about growth minded vs fixed minded, right? I'm glad you stopped by and you should do your half--why would your podiatrist tell you no? My doctors all just look the other way. They know that I'll push myself until I can't. I think you have to surround yourself with people who support you, especially when you have a chronic illness. That includes your medical providers! I hope I see you at Zooma!

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  17. You know I am right there with you lately. It's been tough going and like you, I am not a person who gives up. I may have to alter my goals and tap into what motivates me to pursue them a little bit more. As a psychology buff, that conference sounds fantastic!

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    1. I loved that the CrossFit box gave the seminar and tailored it to athletic performance. It was perfect timing and just what I needed to hear!

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  18. I think part of the joy of running is the downs that lead to the ups. I know you've got a lot working against you right now that you can't control... so adjust your goals and find joy in what you can control. There is a still a runner in that body of yours! It's not time to quit yet!

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    1. Definitely not! I just have to adjust my perspective.

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  19. I would call myself a growth-minded person. As a 60 year old runner who still wants to be competitive and as a coach who thrives on her runners’ successes, I think it’s a requirement. This sounds like an excellent program. They sure jammed a lot into an hour!

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    1. I have a short attention span, so it was perfect for me. But I agree, it could have been an hour for each section!

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  20. Definitely the post I needed to read today - thank you! Running has so many highs and lows so sometimes it's really hard to stick with it, so a good pep talk is always key!
    Right now I'm in the "running the fun" mentality and it has helped me to not get so wrapped up in numbers and pace

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    1. Mentally, I want to be in the running is fun mentality but all I can say is that right now running is hard!

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  21. This is a good post! There's definitely seasons of waning motivation. I'm coming back from a small niggle and it's pretty tough to actually get motivated for hard workouts now. I'm trying to approach it from the growth mindset and putting in the work. I really liked this, thanks for sharing all the insight!

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    1. Thanks! I hope I did ok capturing the key points--I was taking notes but it's always so much better live.

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  22. That sounds like an amazing seminar! I'm going to have to check out that book.

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    1. I want to read it too! I can use all the motivation I can get!

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  23. Thanks for this post...I really needed to be reminded of all these things. Sounds like a great conference. I like to think of myself as a growth-minded person.
    Hang in there Wendy, I see your IG posts with your crazy (in a good way) workouts. You are one tough lady! That sub 2hr half is definitely within your reach.

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    1. I'm doing what I can but you know what? I have definitely been slacking off in the cardio department. I'm glad I did that boot camp to kick my booty into gear.

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  24. Sounds like a great seminar. Lots of good gems to carry with you during training.

    I so wish I could come for Zooma. Another blogger meetup I'm going to miss. Whomp whomp. Hopefully sometime soon.

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  25. Great post! I’ve always viewed my fitness goals as rid bits, I’d like to do this or that - never really looking at the grandeur scheme of things! I wish you the best of luck with your Zooma race! You’ve got this!

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  26. Great post Wendy. Lots of food for thought.
    How do I stay on track when training isn’t going well? Usually I just suck it up and move on. I was probably at my worst at the beginning of this year when training REALLY wasn’t going well and I think it forced me to be realistic in my goals (so, no marathon at Liverpool, but the Half instead). I would consider myself to be mostly growth-minded, but that’s not to say I don’t go through phases of fixed-mindedness. Usually a good kick in the pants (by either myself, my husband , a coach or a good friend) will get me back into a growth-minded state. Health and Fitness is definitely a main pillar in my life and I think that’s likely why in all the drama that I’ve had the past few years with my foot, back, surgery, not healing fully, etc., I have never given up. Not when my weight went up. Not when everyone else around me seemed to be progressing and having PR’s right and left (not even living with a runner who is BQ’ing and running marathons to train for a marathon). Running and getting fit has absolutely changed my life and I’m not about to go back to “old” me, not even for a second. I have a BHAG, yes and that would be do run a d*mn marathon under 5 hours, possibly even running all the way through (no walk breaks) and I will keep going until I reach that goal. That means I have to put in the work and I have to face challenges that scare me or push me out of my comfort zone (every time I go to my training group it’s out of my comfort zone because I have to deal with the young girl inside of me who thinks she’s worthless and can’t do anything so why bother). My motivation is me – I am worth the work!

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    1. I'm glad to hear that running and getting fit has changed your life to the better. That is motivating in itself!!! That BHAG? You got this.

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