Did you know that our emotions and feelings can positively or negatively dictate our athletic performances? Have you ever really thought that much about it? In her TEDx, Dr. Amber Selking shares the research behind our emotions and how they control our physical state in which dictates the positive or negative direction our athletic performance(s) will go. You can watch her video by clicking the link below.
I knew the second I got ready to start my short three mile run today that it wasn’t going to go well. I got home early from work. After I spoke to my wife and kids for a second while they played in the pool, I casually said that I had to get my running workout in for the day.
Let’s stop right there. Does anyone see a problem with that last statement? Look closely. What are your thoughts?
Jon Gordon speaks a lot about having a positive mindset. He talks about how your self-talk can often dictate your mindset, which ultimately will have an effect on your attitude on how you approach a specific task. Since I started training for my sprint triathlon, my motivation for training has been just as high if not higher on most days than when I competed in track & field or powerlifting. Getting up at 5:30am to complete a swim session or bike ride feels awesome! I feel as though I have accomplished something that will have a lasting positive outcome on my overall health and well-being.
However, this afternoon, for reasons I’ll discuss later, rather than telling my wife that I get to go on my run today, I told her that I have to go on my run. There is a big difference in those two statements. I have to compared to I get to. The I have to statement brings a negative connotation. It signals to our body that we really don’t want to do it, but we have to.
When we tell ourselves we get to do something, it has the opposite effect. We are signaling to our body that we are fired up to get to complete this task or activity. I didn’t really think about how the phrasing effected my day-to-day work tasks until I started sharing that I get to do things at work, rather than I have to do things at work. Amber’s TEDx goes into a more technical and biological/chemical overview than I am doing here. But think about it. The next time you are faced with a challenge or obstacle, how you embrace the situation will influence the direction of the outcome (positively or negatively). You can either tell yourself that you get to do this because you want to or you can tell yourself that you have to do this because well, you just have to. The way we approach the situation or challenge will have an effect on the outcome based on our attitude going into the obstacle or challenge.
For my run this afternoon, I am embarrassed to say that it was the first time since I started training in March that I had to stop mid-run. I just felt as though I couldn’t keep going. It was my mile 19. I felt frustrated and disappointed in myself. I knew that it may have gone this way because I had to get my run it, rather than saying I get the chance to run before dinner. After about 1.3 miles into my 3-mile run, I stopped, and put my hands on my knees. I hunched over a little bit, trying to get as much air into my lungs as I could. After about 10 seconds, I just stood there on the side of the road. Expecting to be home in about 30 minutes, I realized that I didn’t bring my phone to let my wife know about this minor meltdown, and that I would be late.
I walked for about five minutes, tried to get going again, but I couldn’t get back on my pace. Mentally, I knew this workout was pretty much done. Rather than keep going, I called it. Instead of completing the block, I made a quick right turn and headed home. To date, my worst running session of the season. I’m glad I got it out of the way today, and not on August 25th when I get to race (see what I did there). I’ll live to run another day. I think I knew enough today that it wasn’t going to go well if I kept going. There will be other training sessions. Shorting myself 1.5-miles isn’t the end of the world. I can accept that now. I probably couldn’t have accepted that in my mid-20’s though.
The attitude and mindset we bring into a competition, a presentation at work, or the start of a paper/homework assignment will dictate how that task will go. Most of us probably don’t say, “Hey, tonight is going to be awesome. I get the chance to complete my 15-page paper that is due next week. I’m thankful for the opportunity to get this project done.” It does sound nicer telling ourselves that we are getting the chance to do it, as opposed to telling ourselves that we have to do it.
Have you ever encountered a situation like this? What were you doing? How did you handle it? I'd love to hear from you. As always, thanks for reading ~ Charles
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.