Here in the UK, the clocks went forward at the weekend, making it lighter in the evenings for a bit longer. Spring has finally sprung, we are enjoying some sunshine and warmer weather, and best of all, we are seeing flowers and plants bloom again. It’s just beautiful to be outdoors.
Whilst my favourite time of the year is Autumn, as I love the colours and I am more of a cold air ‘wrap up warm’ kind of girl, I love the sense of opportunity and new beginnings that Spring brings. After a long Winter when many of us have spent a lot of time indoors, with shorter darker days and sometimes miserable weather, it’s a real treat to see the sun shining, trees budding and flowers blooming. It lifts your mood, instils a sense of anticipation and excitement, and generally makes you feel happy.
This time of year always makes me want to sort things out and clean up – I guess it’s a bit of ‘Spring cleaning’. It also makes me want to try new things and focus on what I can do to improve things. So I’ve been busy about the house painting, clearing and cleaning and having a good sort out has really made me feel good – almost cleansed!
And I’m taking a similar approach to myself – focusing on how I can improve my well being, health and general outlook. To do so, I’m cutting back on sugar and looking to up my running distances (and using my Garmin tracking app to give me stats and focus). And one more thing I’ve decided to do is to challenge myself by incorporating one body weight exercise a day to my routine for the whole of April – I’ve decided on press ups. I’m going to start with 10 a day and build it up each day. Small changes, one at a time.
Spring – it’s time to bloom and progress!
The inner drive to want something is what initially motivates us to do something, and physical fitness or power plays a key part in getting us there. But it is your mind – your mental power – that will determine whether you make it there or not.
Take a fitness challenge – like a race or an obstacle course, or climbing a mountain. You need to be physically fit to complete it, and most people will normally follow some kind of specific plan. But if you aren’t in the right place mentally, or can’t pull on your mental strength to get you through the tough parts, it can all fail at that point.
It’s so important to make sure you focus your training on the mental side as well as the physical. But how do you do that? A few things that work for me:
- Recognise progress
You need to see progress in your training, and remind yourself how far you have come each time. Give yourself that pat on the back for getting through a stage, and focus on the positive elements of your progress.
- Identify the negatives
Yes, look at the negatives, but focus on how you can learn from them and work out how to deal with it when it happens again.
- Look out for the signs of your mental weakness
Learn to notice the signs of when you are feeling mentally weak during your training, and think about how you overcame them – or how you can do in the future. This will help you in the hard moments of your challenge.
- Talk to yourself
Listen to that inner voice, and use it to its full effect. Tell yourself you are good, you can do this, and you will feel proud at the end. This really works! You can do it our loud if you really want to 🙂
- Visualise the end
This really works for me. During a tough moment in a run, or when I have climbed some tough mountains, I’ve visualised myself at the finish and thought about how I will feel. And I ask myself how disappointed I will feel if I don’t push on.
And finally – Dig Deep! When you start to feel the ‘pain’, dig deep and believe in yourself. you know you can do it. As my husband frequently tells me ‘It’s all in the mind’. And it can make or break your determination.
Yesterday I ran a half marathon. This was something I had been training for over the last few months, covering some good distances and racking up the mileage. Despite this however, I really didn’t believe I would be able to complete the run without stopping, or in a decent time. I even had doubts on whether I would be able to finish.
This was all ridiculous, and I had to keep giving myself a good talking to at the start and throughout the run. Of course I could do it, and of course I would do it in a decent time, and I would be ecstatic at the end.
Strength and determination stem from mental willpower and belief in yourself, and quite often you are much stronger and capable than you think. This was definitely the case for me yesterday. Whilst I knew I had it in me to complete it, I did have to keep telling myself I was strong and I could do it, and I dug deep to get myself through it.
It’s achievements like this that make you stronger, more capable, and more aware of your own strength and ability. I finished that run with a sprint finish (I kid you not!), over taking a few people on the last 200 metres, and I felt fantastic – so proud of myself, and yet so surprised at my own ability. Others around me never doubted me and always believed I would do it
Yesterday proved to me that we have the strength inside ourselves to achieve whatever we want, to overcome those difficult situations, and to make yourself proud.
You are MUCH stronger than you think – just remember that!
Making a decision to change something can be daunting, and quite often we bite off more than we can chew and end up failing. With good intentions we make statements – either to ourselves or publicly – saying we’re going to make a change and totally transform an aspect of our lives.
I’ve been here, and seen others do it. ‘Right that’s it, I’ve had enough, I’m going on a diet and I’m going to be two sizes smaller in six weeks’…’and I’m going to do it by cutting all the bad stuff out of my diet and exercising for an hour every day’. And sometimes I’ve been so determined that I have succeeded for a few days and maybe even a week. But the habits have always crept back in and I’ve usually ended back where I started – rather disappointed in myself.
Over the years, I’ve realised that you need be realistic about goals and how to achieve them and one thing I’ve found that has helped is to do things one thing at a time – incorporate one small change at a time and build on it.
It takes 21 times to change or make a habit, which means if you can make a small change daily for three weeks, it should start to become ingrained in your normal processes. So rather than trying to cut everything bad out of your diet, why not try cutting out crisps for three weeks, and then try something else after that.
I did this with trying to up my water intake a few years ago – I started having a pint of room temperature water every morning as soon as I got up. It worked! After a few weeks of making myself do it (and I did need to make sure I had a post-it note on my cupboard to start with), it became a habit. I still do it now, and it has encouraged me to drink more during the day.
So don’t give yourself a hard time about needing to change things – do it one small change at a time, and give yourself a pat on the back for trying. Celebrate the small successes – they all lead to bigger and better things 🙂
We all make excuses, place blame on circumstance or events, and even other people for things not going our way. That’s because it’s easy to do, and even easier than to admit that it is down to ‘me’. It really is true when people say that the biggest thing stopping you achieve anything is yourself.
I’m currently training for a half marathon. I’ve completed quite a few in the past and I know what to expect on the day (having run this particular course a number of times). This time round, I’ve been quite good with my training, mainly because I have been really enjoying running and I’ve seen results – my times are getting quicker and I am able to cover longer distances without too much more effort. In the past I’ve had the nagging doubt that ‘I won’t finish’ or ‘I’ll look really stupid to the crowds’ or even ‘I can’t do it’. But this time I’ve realised that the only thing that will stop me (completing the event, and doing so in a manner of which I will be proud of myself), is me!
I know I can do it, and I can do it in a good time, and I can enjoy it. I just need to keep telling myself – keep that mantra going in my head as I run, and give myself positive boosts along the way. I’ve found this really helps when I run, and in other elements of life too – stop telling yourself you can’t do it, and think of all the ways you can manage it. Don’t blame other things or people – take responsibility for your actions, the situation, and the possible outcome. And then enjoy the feeling of achievement.
If you can overcome ‘yourself’, you can do anything you set your mind to!