A Question of Attitude

Retraining our minds is the single greatest thing that we can do for self-improvement. However, it can be challenging to rewire decades of neural pathways and habits.

Mark Allen shared with me the observation that, before we can get our race together, we must get our lives together. Here how I go about it.

Recently, a friend asked me what bothers me. I responded by asking him to tell me about some of his favorite things.


The first step for improving thought patterns is gaining visibility on how we reinforce negative thoughts. Socially we are wired to spot differences, focus on irritations and share stories of discomfort. It takes a surprising amount of inner calm to listen to something negative, release it and not pass it on. However, when we let negativity end with us, we are doing a huge service to our peer group. You’ll also find that it makes you much more attractive to the world at large.

Another tactic that I use with all the daily irritations and noise that flow through my head is pause and ask myself, “do I care enough to change?”

It is okay if I don’t care enough to change, but I lose my right to complain and focus on accepting the way things are.

Generally speaking, I find that whatever appears to be bothering me goes away by mixing a workout with the passage of time. I’ve realized that this means the underlying cause of irritations is a habit of “being irritated!”

At least I can see it. This helps me focus on what’s really driving my life experience: my thought habits.

So No. 1 is asking myself what I am willing to change to improve the situation. Here are other mind tricks that help:

  • Situation: When someone asks me what I think about another person’s problems…
    Reminding myself that: “I have my hands full dealing with myself” …Helps me stay focused.
  • Situation: When I find myself wanting to take charge of a situation, or “solve” someone else’s life…
    Asking: “What do I want from this situation?” …Helps me avoid taking control.
  • Situation: When I’m worried about the future.
    Stating: “Either it will or it won’t” …Helps me let time pass and remember that the vast majority of our fears never happen.
  • Situation: I catch myself focusing more on what I’m going to say next than what someone is trying to tell me.
    I say: “Let’s see what they are going to say next.”

All of these cues are designed to get me to pause and divert from my automatic response system. By creating a habit of conscious reaction, I am able to maximize my ability to direct my life.

On race day we have a fixed amount of fitness available. By getting our minds in order before we race, we have the best chance of achieving our potential.

A cluttered mind is a poor companion for ultra endurance sport.

Categories: Lifestyle

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