Positive Mantras

Written by Nuno Costa

When the wheels come off – how do you deal with adversity? This is a common challenge for someone participating in an endurance event. You will have the race where everything you can think of goes wrong – then what? How do you handle the unknown? Do you keep fighting till the end, or do you give up?

Endurance events are quite challenging – especially mentally. Events in longer duration can be tougher because we are typically alone with our thoughts for hours at a time. Even a shorter race like a 5k can be a push to stay dialed in for the entire time. At some point or another our thoughts drift. What do you do when that happens? Do you have a way to get dialed back in to your race/pace so that you can achieve your goal?

The longer the race – the tougher the battle between your ears. A great way to overcome the negative thoughts from taking over and potentially ruining your race is to have some positive mantras.

In a previous blog post, I described the importance of having a vision statement that you can help you visualize how you want your race to go. This is to be done prior to the race. Part of that statement should include some positive mantras to help you refocus and keep pushing towards breaking the limits of what you think is possible.

I will share what some of my positive mantras have been when I run longer races. I ran track in college, and in the 400-meter sprint you don’t really have time to think, but as I took on longer events I found it more necessary to get my mental game dialed in for the race.

I usually had 3 positive mantras:

1. I love running. 
This is true for me – if this is not true for you, then don’t use it. You want your mantras to be authentic, if they aren’t, you won’t believe them and they won’t serve you.

2. I love my red running shoes.
I really did for a long time, I had a pair of low-profile racing flats that I loved and every time I put them on to race it helped me stay focused. When the race got tough, I tried to remember this so I would forget about the pain.

3. Thankfulness for the volunteers & supporters.
My last positive mantra was more of an action – I always made it a point to thank the volunteers during a race. Events take a lot of work to be pulled of properly. Lots of people giving up their time to come out and support you in some form or another and they don’t even know you. I made it a point at water stations to thank them and give them a big smile. This was really serving me though – as I thanked them, most of the time I forgot about the possible pain I was going through and got to a much better mental state that allowed me to perform at a higher level.

Regardless if you are trying to get on the podium or just finish a race – everyone can benefit from positive mantras. Keep them simple, keep them personable and keep them fun! This way it will be easy for you to remember when the race gets tough. If you don’t think you will be able to remember them you might want to write them with a sharpie on your hands or arms so that you can look at them throughout the race!

The positive mantras don’t have to be limited to your running or endurance events, I have used them in Open workouts before, training sessions, etc…They might vary depending on the task at hand, but I have always found them to be helpful in getting me to be able to accomplish whatever I was setting out to do.

Do you already use mantras – if so, I’d love to hear what they are? If you don’t – then it is my challenge to you, to create 3 positive mantras for your next race/event!