Benefits of Using a Personal Mantra
We all have something that motivates us when we run. Whether it’s the comparison of yourself to other runners or a more personal goal you’re trying to reach – we need motivation to get out there every day.
But, when you’re out there and you’re struggling – really struggling – it can be hard to sustain that motivation that got you there in the first place.
Enter the mantra. Although rooted in Hindu or Buddhist meditation practices, mantra is commonly defined as:
“an expression or idea that is repeated, often without thinking about it, and closely associated with something.”
Over the past year, I have become a firm believer in the mind/body connection. It may sound cheesy – but positive thinking is powerful. As you’re reading this article, say out loud to yourself “I’m so tired!” – really, say it. What happened to your body? Chances are you slouched a bit, your head fell forward and if you were looking into a mirror – I’ll bet your eyes and mouth were down-turned.
Just that simple phrase, whether it was true or not, had an effect on your body. When you’re training or racing telling yourself – “I can’t” or “I hurt” does you no good. In those times when you’re struggling – repeat a positive personal mantra and you’ll be amazed what it can do for you.
What Makes a Mantra?
A mantra is a little more than telling yourself “I can do this”. It’s something that when you say it – there is a change in your mindset and behavior. Try it out on a training run, does it make you smile, change your attitude, put a little pep in your step? Some tips to help you find your mantra:
- Keep it Positive: Repeating a positive statement is much more beneficial than beating yourself up.
- Keep it Short: You need to be able to repeat your mantra over and over. Do the talk test – can you say it in one breath?
- Make it Personal: There are certainly generic phrases that work – but tying your mantra to your own personal experience makes it much more powerful.
What’s My Mantra?
A few years ago, I ran a 1K with my niece. At the start line she insisted that I hold her. It was like she was sizing up the other runners and needed the comfort of an adult to say “you can do this”. As we began to run, holding hands the entire way, she said to me:
“I’m running Jenny!”
“Yes Lizzy, you’re running!” I repeated back celebrating the fact she could do this!
“No, I’m running Jenny!” she said again a little more emphatically with a twinge of annoyance.
“Yes Lizzy, you’re running and I’m so proud of you!” thinking she needed a little more validation.
After more back and forth – not being a parent I didn’t speak 4-year-old very well – she was actually telling me “I’m winning Jenny!”
During a race when I don’t think I can keep going – I repeat to myself “I’m winning Jenny!”. It brings a smile to my face, it makes me think of Lizzy’s attitude and how this is all supposed to be fun, it reminds me of the support I have of my family and friends and it simply helps carry me to the finish line.