Fast smooth light strong. Fast smooth light strong. Fast smooth light strong. Fast smooth light strong.
I like the rhythm of those words. I like that I can say them in my head with every footstrike. And I like that when I say them in my head with every footstrike, I feel like I’m running faster, smoother, lighter, stronger.
Usually I save that mantra for the end of a tempo run, when I’m running out of steam and starting to feel sluggish. It never ceases to amaze me that my last mile is often one of my fastest.
I have other mantras for other situations. As I’m pushing it up a hill, I’ll think, Own it own it own it own it. Or sometimes, Keep it going keep it going keep it going keep it going, until I get to the top.
And as I’m nearing the end of my training (only one more easy 4-miler left, and then it’s time to tackle the 26.2), I’m trying to come up with some words to run by. I’m looking for words and thoughts that will drown out any discouragement and inspire me to keep trying, even if I’m not feeling my best. Because mantras are one of the few weapons you have at your disposal when you’re actually on the race course, and they can be surprisingly powerful.
So here’s today’s tip: Make a mantra for yourself. Or several.
A few choice words (though probably not of the four-letter variety) can get you through a rough patch when you feel like caving to negativity. Rather than dwelling on pain or disappointment, chant your mantra until you get back in your groove and can take charge again. The February 2011 issue of Runner’s World has some good tips about coming up with mantras for yourself. They say to keep it short, stay positive, make it energetic, and then embed the instructions.
If you have a mantra of your own you are willing to share, please post it in the comments.