Runners often talk about proper “fuel” for a run. Usually it refers to the nutrition your body needs to provide energy and stamina to carry you through the long run. Last week, though, a thought occurred to me and has stuck with me ever since. “Fuel” is not limited to the nutrition you put in your body. A runner is also fueled by his or her thoughts, whether positive or negative, throughout the long run.
This concept started during a message at a women’s program at church titled “A Joy-Filled Life.” The main point of the message was my joy is determined by my thought life.
I’ve known all along that my thoughts, whether positive or negative, are a big part of my success as a runner and a coach. Somewhere through my mediation on this topic, I started thinking of positive thoughts as “fuel” for my well being.
With this concept tucked in the back of my mind, I lead our first training team long run on Saturday. As I was driving home from the run, I did my usual “after action” review of the morning. Team MeLiza has thirty-six members this season, 21 are team members I have coached during previous seasons. Some of them have been with me at least four seasons.
Over the course of time, I have seen a lot of growth and determination in my team. Saturday was no different. I saw team members who had struggled to stay on pace, stay right with the front of the group throughout the entire run. One runner in particular reinforced the thoughts as fuel concept on which I had been dwelling. Christi shared later she was working on her “inner voice.” Instead of worrying about how much further, how much longer, or that she can’t, she fueled her thoughts with “I AM strong. I AM a runner.” The change was noticeable in Christi’s long run performance and I would venture to say it was because of those positive thoughts.
The importance of thinking positively is not limited to long runs and workouts. It can impact a person throughout every day life. The battle for positive thoughts is a struggle I have known nearly all my life. Negative thoughts almost always come the easiest to me. If I don’t guard my heart and my mind, I can sink into a thought cesspool and it can be hard to get out. Every day, I have to make the choice to find and focus on the good, even when things get ugly.
The same thing happens on a long run. It’s easy to fall into the negative thoughts that come with stretching yourself. When a run gets ugly, find the good. It could be the teammate next to you, the nature surrounding you, or simply your ability to be on the trail when there are many that can not. Don’t let negative thoughts disrupt your run. Choose thoughts of excellence to fuel for your run, as well as your life.