It is not gender, age, occupation, or performance based. MINDSET impacts all of us at some stage of our lives, either positive or negative, yet we all have the ability to change it.
Recently I have been faced with this exact challenge as my body continually rejects the physical demands that I am trying to place on it? Having previously completed 15 marathons and 12 ultra marathons (50-100km races) I was starting to train for the 2016 New York Marathon, which was to be my last marathon with my wife and some close friends. Acknowledging the fact that I had a base level of fitness, training was progressing well until 3 weeks ago when I was struck down by what I thought was ‘the oldmans’s calf injury. Immediately I thought the worst, ‘what if’, ‘how long’, and ‘how bad is it’…? The inner voice, the negative mindset, the self-doubt started to creep in. It was only 50 days until the New York marathon and my training volume was just about to increase when I was physically debilitated by this injury. I had a few options to consider…either throw the towel in and reflect on my previous marathons and enjoy a week in New York. Or attempt to run with one of my mates that may need some encouragement hoping that I could still keep up with him. Or do I rest, treat, seek experts, test, re test and adapt my training in an effort to get to the start line injury free?
Deep down I knew that I had time to recover if I could get the injury to settle down, nevertheless, I needed to swap the self doubt that was taking over my grey matter with positive self talk. I needed to identify what type of training I could do to prepare myself for the marathon that didn’t involve running to continually condition my body and hopefully overcome the injury in time for race day, November 6th. During this self-appraisal / acknowledgement it was important that I identified who I am and what I stand for. It was important that I identify the positive scenarios that I am faced with rather than the negative responses that were suppressing my training output.
My treatment protocol became frequent and varied as I sought out myotherapists, physiotherapists, massage therapists and Chinese herbalists in an effort to start running again, yet it become clear that they all had different opinions and treatment plans. To make it more frustrating I could ride on the spin bike for 2 hours, I could use the cross trainer for 2.5hrs. but as soon as I tried to run I could only last 9 minutes until I got this sharp stabbing pain in my left calf! The pain was debilitating to the stage where I would have to walk, now this was character building.
Everyday the alarm went off and the sun came up meant it was one day closer to race day so with 40 days remaining I decide to get an MRI on my lower back. The conclusion was a bulging disc L4 L5 and bilateral chronic S1 pars defect. The positive news was at least we had identified the cause now I just needed to develop a protocol to settle the injury, then condition my body and change the mindset so I could make the start line.
So for now my initial focus was all about changing my focus from the physical to the mental, instilling a positive mindset to get me to the start line. I know I will not necessarily be in peak condition physically come race day but I can be in peak condition mentally come race day and this is something many marathon runners forget. The start of a marathon is all about running with your mind, pacing, planning, timing, fuelling and forgetting the number of kilometres that are in front of you, whereas the finish of a marathon is all about your heart. Many runners race is over well before ½ way because they have failed to mentally articulate their race strategy, the good, the bad and the ugly so at least I am confident I have this covered understanding that the race starts at 35km. So in an effort to hit the start line with the positive Mindset to get me to the finish line I have designed this 4-step progress plan;
STEP 1 ~ learn to change your MINDSET: create a fixed mindset where you acknowledge the “voice” and the facts and then eliminate any negative self-talk
STEP 2 ~ Recognise that you have a choice: the way I interpret my injury and setback can be either a fixed mindset, ‘I’m done, the race is over’ or a growth mindset, where I come up with an alternative strategy to rehabilitate myself and give myself the best chance of running New York 16.
STEP 3 ~ Reinforcement: self-talk, positive reinforcement, planning, and preparation are all key components to improving mindset. The three key components that are necessary include self-confidence, determination and perseverance.
STEP 4 ~ Take Control Take Action: The key to maintaining a positive mindset and spending more time in the growth mindset is taking control of the situation, take ownership and be accountable for your progress. Seek help, seek expertise and then decide on the best treatment plan that you believe gives you the best chance of recovering.
With only 33 days until the start of the 2016 New York Marathon I am still repeating step 4 – seeking expertise, taking ownership and accountability but I am adamant I will make the start line!