The attitude we bring to training and racing is one of the biggest determining factors in our success.
That is a big statement.
With the right attitude, success becomes possible, but without the right attitude success is highly unlikely. No matter how great your training schedule is or how great your race strategy is, it is very unlikely to be successful if your attitude is not in the right place. And even if your training schedule or race plan have flaws, you still have the possibility of success with the right attitude. But if you can marry the 2 together, a great training schedule and race plan, along with the right attitude, well …. then it will be hard not to be successful.
4 Elements To A Successful Attitude
I believe there are 4 elements to a successful attitude for training and racing and pursuing your goals: Positivity, Belief, Confidence and Determination
The body tends to follow the mind, so while negativity makes you feel worse, positivity can help you feel better. The runner must stay positive and optimistic in mind-frame and outlook in training and in racing. They must focus on the positive and opportunities of their situation. They must recognize and dismiss negative thoughts as quickly and effectively as possible. Negative thoughts happen to everyone, it is human nature and part of fatigue. The most successful runners though are those who learn to recognize and deal with those negative thoughts quickly and turn them back into positives. They take the thought “Its just not my day, I can’t do this” and recognized it's subjective negativity and turn it so then it becomes “this is going to be so epic when I overcome this”.
The runner must believe in themselves. The runner must believe that what they are trying to accomplish is possible, and they must believe in that their training will help get them there. Without belief, success will not happen, period. A key to belief is being open to the possibilities and potential of themselves. The runner must allow themselves to believe.
A runner must allow training to build up their confidence. They must give themselves credit for the hard work they do in training (even when it’s not perfect) and allow it to build them up mentally as well as physically. The most successful runners go the start line with a calm confidence that they are well prepared for the task before them. The runner must have confidence in themselves and give themselves permission in the race to be the bad-ass they have worked so hard in training to become. Confidence and belief are closely related, we must believe it is possible and that we can do it, and then we must have the confidence in ourselves and our training to go out there and get it done.
A runner must build up and maintain a strong determination and steely resolve to accomplish their goals. Often in athletics, determination springs for a passion for the sport and the goals we are pursuing. Ultimately in training we must be able to be determined and passionate enough about pursuing our goals that it motivates us to get out there every day and do the work necessary to reach our goals. In racing in order to accomplish our goals we must remain more determined and resolute that we are tired. The stronger our determination, the longer we can outpace fatigue. Determination keeps it focus intently on the destination (the goal) rather than on the sacrifices it takes to get there.
The Attitude Muscle
We can not just decide one day that we will have a great attitude and then magically “poof” everything will be perfect. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Instead, our attitude is like a muscle, it is something we have to work on, and train, and develop. It is not something that will be perfect to start with, but the more diligent we are in working on it, the better and stronger it will become. Slowly over time we will learn to master the 4 elements that make up the attitude we desire, the one that will help lead us to success and accomplished goals. And in the times we fail in our attitude, and there will be plenty of those, we must recognize it, and learn from it, and fix it, and rededicate ourselves to the process of developing a successful attitude. We will never be completely perfect, but with time and diligence we can build up a strong attitude muscle, one we can call on when when we need it most.
One of the most powerful tools that you have as you work on your attitude and pursue your goals, is a vision of what you want to achieve. You need to be able to clearly see and define what you are trying to accomplish. What will it look like, what will it taste like, what will it smell like, and what will it feel like. Include all the senses you can in your vision, the more senses the more real and tangible it will become to you. Think of this vision often, multiple times per day, burn it into your mind. This vision will help you with all the elements of attitude we just talked about. With a strong vision of success in your head, with all your senses engaged, it becomes more real and concrete to you, not so much a dream or fairy tale anymore, but a real place and destination you are moving towards. As such, it will be easier to remain positive and dismiss negativity. It will be easier to believe in it and that you can you achieve it. It will be easier to see your hard work getting you closer and thus building your confidence. And this vision will make it that much easier to stay motivated, determined and passionate about it.
Do yourself, your training, and your racing the biggest favor you can, arm yourself with a major key to your success, the right attitude.