Accidental Motivation (Placebo Training)

Due to an injury, I’m not running ATM. So, this post (written about four years back) spoke to me today and I wanted to revisit it. Enjoy!

I’ve never met my favorite running partner, we go on long runs all the time. It happens without planning or engagement. I set out on a run and before I know it, I have a shadow on my heels that I can’t shake.

Sometimes, I run two laps around Lake Merritt. It’s 10 kilometers. Once, I set out for a run after doing some push-ups, I felt the blood pumping before my stride began. It had been two weeks since my last run. So, around mile two, I still hadn’t hit my rhythm. I kept pushing through it, thoughts scattered, lacking focus, then I caught a glimpse of orange in my peripheral vision. “Oh, this dude wants to pass me”, I thought. “I need to run faster” and “this ‘running partner’ has been sent here to motivate me”, was my second thought. My final thought was to run faster, smile and say thank you to whatever cosmic running coach sent this running partner to challenge me.

Orange shirt ran with me, pushing me to run faster as his pace was equivalent to mine, for about a mile and a half. Realistically, he probably never even realized that he was my source of motivation. We never spoke, we never engaged. I imagined that he was there to light a fire under my heels. Around mile 4, his run was done and mine still had 2.2 before completion. So, even though, I turned and realized that he had stopped running altogether, I imagined an orange shirt challenging me to run stronger up to the very end. There are times when fake medicine cures symptoms when we are told that it will. There are times when we are sent the motivation that we need because we believe that the ego stroke of winning will help to shake off the demons. I call it placebo training and you can write your own prescription. What do you need to see, hear or connect with in order to get you to push beyond your perceived limitations? When you’re lifting weights alone, do you imagine someone you trust spotting/encouraging you? When you’re on a long ride, do you imagine that you’re in competition with the other cyclists on the hill? When you go for a run, do you try to catch up to the pair of shoes in front of you only to run faster and try to catch the next pair of shoes beyond that? What’s your placebo for challenging your body through the power of the mind?

You’ve often heard me suggest that you create a training mantra. I still encourage that. (Think of a set of rhythmic, positive words that – when repeated – will help you conquer any obstacle, with your mind. Your body will soon follow.) This week, I want you all to practice your visualization techniques. See the person motivating you, make it real and break through your previous limitations. Set some new personal records. Motivation is all around us, it comes in all forms. It’s our perception that differentiates between obstacle and opportunity. Tap into the abundant motivation that the world has to offer and take flight.

Any of you that have trained with me, one-on-one, know that I don’t listen to excuses. There is always a way to reach your goals. Watch this 2m:30s video and remember, YES. YOU. CAN.

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“So What” – A Mantra for Strength

You’ve come to me, your Fitness Coach, with some big goals in mind. I’m happy to help you accomplish those goals. But, it’s important that you don’t stand in your own way. You have the potential to be your own worst enemy. Your harshest criticism will come from the mirror, not your friends. We emotionally abuse ourselves. If you don’t believe me, how often have you said something to/about yourself that you’d never want to hear from a lover or friend? When I broke my foot on a run, I replayed alternate outcomes of the scenario on a non-stop loop in my head. “If I only I had…” “But, what if I turned right…” In times like that, I’m forced to remember that I don’t use the words “should have”. When spoken in that order, those words are dangerous. How many times have you become upset with yourself and used those words? “I should have worked out today!” “I should have performed better in that race.” Using those words leads down a rabbit hole of regret. Those regrets lead to bad decisions. “I should have worked out today. That’s ok, I’ll just workout twice as hard and twice as long tomorrow!” Please don’t do that. Choosing to double-up your workouts to compensate for unplanned off days will only lead to fatigue and a potential injury. The other danger of ‘should have’ comes when life places an obstacle in the way of your training. If you are ever forced to take a break from the sport that you love the most, you will survive. When you get back into that sport, avoid the ‘should have’ state of mind. “I should have kept at it.”

Be, especially, careful to avoid the ‘used tos’. “I used to be able to do this faster, better, stronger.” Sometimes, you will feel like your training hits a plateau. Sometimes, you’ll feel like your training has taken several steps back or that you’ve lost momentum. If any of the aforementioned challenges swing your way, I’d like to introduce the two most important words in the mental game of your training. So what. Clients often tell me what they were able to lift in high school. So what. Friends often talk about how active they were a few years ago. So what. Regulars often tell me that they’ve lost a step. So what. “Jet! You’re being insensitive. I just want to tell you about how awesome the past was. I just want to share some ‘remember when’ monologue, baby!” So what. Be here. Be aware. Do the work. Embrace the moment. You’ll miss what’s happening now if you continue to remember when. So, the next time that your training partner wants to tell you about how awesome their climbing skills were last year or how much they will be able to lift next year, remind them that work must be done today, before anything else matters. Are you going to let any PR from your past degrade your present efforts? Are you going to be your own source of emotional abuse by lamenting about getting slower or weaker? I hope not. I hope that when you think about your high school long jump record that you follow the thought with the phrase, so what.

When we use our past experiences for reference notes on what not to do, that’s wise. When we use our past experiences as an excuse to doubt our abilities today, that’s detrimental to our success. “Jet! I used to be the man on the court!” So what. We are here now in the present. Pleasant memories of your past physical strengths won’t serve you. Here’s what will serve you. During that next mirror conversation, as you appreciate your body beautiful make a statement. “I am here. This is now. I know that work needs to be done in order to reach my fitness goals. Part of that work is letting go of the past and choosing not to live in the future.” We are here. This is now. Work must be done, in this moment. The results will come.

I want to be clear, I’m not saying that setting goals and visualizing that future accomplishment is a bad thing. What I am saying is that getting lost in those days of future past can be another form of criticism that will not serve you or your efforts to grow stronger. Focus on the present. File the rest under SO WHAT and Giddyup!