The Power of Positive Thinking

My thirteen-year-old daughter is currently training for her first half marathon. She’s run several 5k’s and a 10k over the years and wanted to try her hand at a half marathon this spring. Although she runs by herself during the week, she and I run at least part of our long runs together. I’ll run farther than she does so when she turns around to go back home, I keep running for another mile or so.

This past weekend, she and I were running together and I was a bit ahead of her, and was gaining ground as I ran downhill. I passed a man who was walking the other direction (towards me) and he said that I had startled him (but he was really nice about it). I told him there was another runner coming behind me and that it was my daughter.

When the man came upon my daughter, he said to her, “You can catch her. I know you can do it!” or something to that effect. That conversation was unbeknownst to me until my daughter mentioned it to me at home after our run. All I knew was she quickly caught up with me before I even reached the bottom of that hill I was going down and she was either right at my side or a couple of strides ahead of me for the rest of the run until it was time for her to turn around.

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Twinning in our Honey Stinger shirts on a long run!

When she got home, I checked her mile splits on Strava and saw that she continued at the pace she was at when we saw the man and she even managed to speed up towards the end. Her last mile out of 11 miles was her fastest. This is impressive not only because she’s only run longer than 11 miles once, when she accidentally ran 12 miles; she was supposed to run something like 8 miles but got turned around and ended up running 12. This is also impressive because as I mentioned, she’s only 13 so she’s not a seasoned runner and has struggled with pacing herself on long runs by starting out too fast and slowing down for the last few miles.

All of this got me thinking about how much of a role our brains have in long-distance running. My daughter told me about how that man’s comment made her push herself harder for the entire rest of her run. We had only run about 1.5 miles when we saw him, so she pushed for 9.5 miles, which is no small feat for anyone.

Lately I’ve been reading some books about the power of positive thinking and how it effects us in running and life in general. I really enjoyed Deana Kastor’s book Let Your Mind Run and have been applying some of the things she discussed to my runs. For instance, on a run about a week ago, it was really windy and as I was running into the wind, my quads felt tired. Instead of thinking, “This wind sucks. My legs are tired and I just want to be done with this run” I turned it around to “This wind is making my legs stronger” and I was able to finish my run on a more positive note.

Not that positive thinking alone will make you as fast as Deana Kastor. You do have to put in all of the hard work to get faster. Still, I think the power of the mind is so powerful and it can and does influence our bodies in so many ways we’re only beginning to understand.

What about you all? Are you a big believer in positive thinking or do you think it’s over-rated?

Happy running!

Donna

 

Book Review- Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor and Michelle Hamilton

Even though most runners have probably heard of Deena Kastor, I’ll give a bit of background here to begin with. Deena Kastor is one of the best-known American long-distance runners in the world. She has won numerous marathons and other distance road races, she was the national cross-country champion eight times, and won the bronze medal in the women’s marathon at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. She has been running races since she was eleven years old and had immense potential at a young age, mostly winning the events she entered.

In Let Your Mind Run, Kastor describes how she was offered and accepted a scholarship at University of Arkansas where she went on to become 4 time SEC Champion and 8 time All American. However, it wasn’t until she was running professionally that the mental aspect of running began to click with her. After college she moved to Colorado to train with the infamous Coach Vigil (or simply “Coach”), where she trained with the men Coach was currently training.

Even though Coach constantly emphasized having a good attitude and finding the positive in everything, things didn’t begin to come together with Kastor until she began diving deep into the subject of philosophy, not just in relation to running but to life in general. She borrowed and read Coach’s book Road to the Top, and was told it would give her a better understanding of his training methodology. From there, she began paying more attention to attitude and how it related to training and recovery.

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Deena and Andrew Kastor at the Mammoth Track & Field facility. Photo Credit: Joel St Marie

All of the books Kastor read on the study of the mind eventually enabled her to shift her thoughts consciously from negative ones to more positive ones. For example, instead of thinking how tired her body felt before that jolt of caffeine first thing in the morning, she began to replace thoughts of fatigue with ones of getting outside with her dog. She noticed her energy shifted and she was indeed more alert. When her legs began to feel tired during practice, she shifted her negative thoughts to those of realizing her legs were getting stronger and this was a good thing.

Kastor began to notice that her workouts improved thanks to her positive attitude and in fact her whole day was more productive and enjoyable. All throughout the book, she shows clearly how her life evolved and how her running was effected as a result of having a positive attitude. She does this in a natural way and I didn’t feel like she was forcing anything or being too “preachy.”

She tells the story how she met her now-husband Andrew Kastor and how their relationship came to be. From the start, he was one of Deena Kastor’s biggest supporters and eventually he went on to be a massage therapist and running coach. Finally, toward the end of the book, she writes about her pregnancy and birth of her daughter, Piper. Shortly after the birth of Piper her coach Terrence Mahon decided to move to the UK; it was then that Deena and Andrew Kastor took over the Mammoth Track Club and jumped into coaching full-time.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and how it was written. Even if you’re not a runner, you might enjoy reading about Ms. Kastor’s story and all of the trials and triumphs she went through. I believe everyone could benefit from having a positive attitude in life, so for that alone, the book is worth reading.

Check out this book from your local library or here’s a link on Amazon.

Have any of you read this book? If so, what did you think?

Also, I have a discount code for Nuun hydration. Use code hydratefriends25 for 25% off your online order. Shop at nuunlife.com/shop or nuuncanada.com/shop. Valid through March 6, 2019.

Happy running!

Donna