Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Review: Mental Training For Runners, How To Stay Motivated By Jeff Galloway

Last fall, while visiting the Marine Corps Marathon Expo, I had the privilege of meeting former Olympian Jeff Galloway. During my time at Mylan Pharmaceuticals, my weight first crossed over the 200 pound mark. When it happened, I decided I needed to take decisive action. I changed my eating habits, and I started moving (walking/running). At the time Mylan had this walking/running program called the Mylan Milers program. The program was based on the honor system, and encouraged participants to develop a lifestyle of walking/running. There were incentives for achieving 100 (t-shirt), 500 (sweatshirt), and 1,000 (track suit) miles. I decided that I would attempt to move 1000 miles over the course of a year. The year was 1999.

As I started walking and running my way to 1000 miles (I ended at 1,013 that year), I started to get interested in running. At the time there didn't seem to be many books on the subject. (Contrast that today where there seems to be new books and theories coming out every week.) It was back in that time that I discovered Jeff Galloway's Book On Running (one of the best books I've read on the subject). So Jeff Galloway in some ways had served as a coach and a mentor for me in my running life. Although I took a several year hiatus from running, when I picked back up and started training for MCM, I looked to Coach Galloway for advice.

I've been thinking a lot lately about resilience and mental toughness. How do people persevere through hardships of different types and keep going? What is it that helps them to stay focused and motivated. When I saw Mental Training For Runners I had to read what Coach Galloway had to say. I actually ended up reading it during a cross-country flight earlier this year. It is not a long book, but it is well organized and easy to read.

The book is well researched, and rather than jumping straight into the fix, Coach Galloway starts by laying out a few reasons why we may feel unmotivated. He then goes through various ways we can develop mental plans of attack for each of these situations. The irony of the lack of motivation is that there are so many proven healthful benefits to our mind AND body that come from running. As Coach writes, "A gentle paced run activates the attitude-boosting hormones that can instantly transmit good feelings through your body. Within a few minutes, you feel better, more relaxed, have more energy and experience the powerful internal confidence that comes when the body and spirit are working as a team."

One of the best parts of this book is that this Olympic runner shared the fact that as a kid he was overweight and lazy, and that he was able to turn all of this around to become one of the greatest runners in the world. To me, that's inspiration. To know that someone who was once overweight could turn it all around.

Here are just a few of the tactics shared in the book. I won't write em all, but I do recommend the book to anyone who is wrestling with staying motivated and moving whether as a runner, a walker, or just someone trying to move forward with life goals.

1) Smile. This simple act can help you overcome negative thought patterns and change your demeanor and focus.

2) Focus on the positive benefits of the task you are about to (or are currently doing). What will be the result of me achieving this goal?

3) Your reflex brain will start talking to you when your body or mind start to feel stressed. It will work to tell you to slow down, stop, or quit. When it happens, acknowledge it, and speak into it. Laugh and tell it who is boss and keep pushing toward your goal.

4) Concentrate on one challenge at a time. Don't worry about everything all at once.

Whether you read the book or not, may you persevere in bringing your best to whatever you are seeking to accomplish, and may you hone your own mental toughness to persevere through the hard situations you find yourself in!

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