Mindset Muscles

Your mind can help you or hurt you

On any given day in any given situation, our mind will set us up for failure or success. A negative mindset in social situations may go something like this: “what if they don’t like me”, “I hate what I’m wearing”, “Why am I here, this is stupid”. Sound familiar? We do it to ourselves all the time. We also do it in the gym. “This WOD looks terrible today, I’m going to suck”, “I can’t do that many double unders, I’m not going”, “I can’t do toes to bar so I’m skipping it”. Fail, fail, fail. Your mind failed you before you ever gave your body a chance to try.

Without a doubt, having the right mindset is a primary factor in determining your confidence and your success in any given area. For this discussion, we’ll keep it specific to CrossFit. It is important to think of your mindset as a muscle.  You can train it to be stronger. If you constantly allow negative thoughts and emotions to come into your head and bounce around before or during your training, you’re exercising a negative mindset. If this has been your habit for some time, it will take some time to retrain your thinking, just as it does retraining bad habits we get into in our physical training. Essentially, we have to retrain motor patters. The good news is, it can be done.

St. Jude Half Marathon

Last weekend I ran the St. Jude Half Marathon. I didn’t really train for it and was only partially prepared. However, since I’ve ran one before I knew what it was going to take mentally for me to get it done. I had my nutrition lined out perfectly, I had the right shoes, the right clothing, my music set, the right friends encouraging me and my overall fitness as a foundation. All of these things were going to be the key to me being successful.  During the St. Jude race, it takes 2-3 miles for the pack to thin out a little before you can really take stride. Since there’s so much going on, I decided to keep my music off for awhile. I know a lot of people enjoy running without music. They take in the scenery, take time to mentally reflect, breathe, and whatever else they do. I’m not that way. I like my tunes in my ears so I don’t have to hear my own thoughts and heavy breathing! After about 3 miles I decided to plug in and get into my zone. Well, guess what, I couldn’t connect my bluetooth! I tried not to panic but all I could think of was, “Oh my God! I’ve got to listen to this shit going on between my ears another 10 miles!!” Then I thought, no, no negative self talk. “But your feet are going to get tired.” Not listening. “You didn’t train.” “You suck.” “You’re slow.” Not listening, “I’m strong.” “My training is good.” “My nutrition is great.” “You might die.” NO. “I’m awesome and I’m going to smash last years time.”

Sound like a familiar discussion between your ears?
Here’s an excerpt from the book, The Invicutus Mindset:

“It’s easy to feel invincible, strong and courageous before you confront an obstacle. But true mental fortitude is revealed during the worst of the ordeal, when it appears that nothing is going your way and that there is no end in sight. An individual’s outlook and resilience during the worst of times is the difference between those who succeed and those who succumb.”

Training your mindset muscles

So how does one train the right mindset? How do you develop your inner drive, the ability to stay positive and push on? The key lies deep within each and every person, but before we can answer the how, you need to answer the why. Why is strengthening your mindset necessary?

For the next few miles of my race, I only had my thoughts inside my head. I made up my mind that no matter what, there would be no negative self talk. I knew I couldn’t finish where I wanted to if I allowed it to seep in. So I thought about my training. I thought about how strong I’ve been feeling lately. I thought about my training partners and how they were helping me (probably way more than they realize). I remembered that I was running with 20 pounds less weight than last year and that put a little pep in my step. I thought about a 21 year old cancer patient and friend of my daughter. He’s literally fighting for his life and losing his battle. “Surely you can run for him, Angie.” and so I did.

What is important to you?

What are your goals? What will it take for you to reach your goals? What matters to you? When you figure that out you’ll know exactly how to develop the proper mindset to support those goals. No goals were ever achieved from a weak mindset.  Strengthening your mental toughness inside the gym will create an indestructible mindset in all facets of your life.

As it turns out, I eventually got my music connected and I finished the half marathon with a 30 minute PR.


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