What kind of conversations do you have with yourself during exercise? Is your “self-talk” critical, motivational, calming, stressful, or something else? Just like my son’s Triathlon race shirt says today, “Toughness is in your attitude, not your muscles.” Mental skills play a huge part in achieving success in all aspects of our lives, including fitness. Guess what? The more we improve our fitness, the better we can also become at mental skills. Here are a few examples of how we (can) use mental skills to enhance fitness:
Trouble actually beginning a workout? Use self-talk to talk yourself into it! “Just give it 5 minutes.” “Its only 30 minutes.” “I’ll feel so much better afterwards.”
Yoga: simple reminders to focus on breath and movement increase focus. If you are anything like me, Yoga really challenges the mind to be more still. The benefits of sticking with it are worth the pain!
Running: See my word cloud above. Tackle hills with self-talk – “Drive!!” Ease into a long run with reminders about form: “relax,” “slow and steady.” Keep going with positive affirmations. Use mental imagery to imagine a finish line and glorious triumph.
Dancing: Close your eyes and focus on the feeling of the rhythm and movement. Channel your inner Fly Girl!
Strength Training: “Push!” “I am strong!” “Go Heavy or Go Home!” “FORM!!” “Flat Back!”
New Activity: “Nobody does it perfectly the first time!” “Keep working!” “I won’t give up!”
I’ve covered just a few examples here, but our mind is the most powerful piece of fitness equipment we own! It just needs some flexing. Using self-talk, mental imagery, psyching up, dissociation, and other skills will get you to the next level in fitness.
To learn more about Carolyn, and for more in-depth posts on mental skills (coming soon), check out www.fitlifeliaison.com.