No whining on the trail

Attitude is everything in running.  It can affect your results as much, if not more so, than any other single factor.  A positive mental attitude will push you through the tough spots and a negative one will only throw constant curve balls and walls in your path. Your attitude, good or bad, will be multiplied, this can be counted on as much as death and taxes.

Col. Chris Hadfield, who was at one time the Commander of the International Space Station, wrote a book called “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth”.  In it he made a point that has caused me to stop and rethink my reactions more than once. He said “In space flight, ‘attitude’ refers to orientation: which direction your vehicle is pointing relative to the Sun, Earth, and other spacecraft. If you lose control of your attitude, two things happen: the vehicle starts to tumble and spin, disorienting everyone on board and it also strays from its course, which, if you’re short on time or fuel, could mean the difference between life and death.” (Sidenote on Col. Hadfield, he is probably most famous for his cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”)

The first time I read this, I had to stop and re-read it because it hit so close to home. What direction are you facing in reference to your obstacle? Is it a positive orientation or a negative one?  A negative orientation will cause you to lose sight of your goals and spin out of control, so to speak. When focused on the negative of the situation we often forget the path we are on and the reasons that we are on it.

Something that I have heard at races occasionally is people whining; either about the weather, the course or some hill or even an obstacle. I’m not talking about the joking that occurs, you know the kind, when you roll your eyes because there is yet another hill suddenly in front of you.  No, what I am referring to is the spoiled brat, obnoxious whining. If you signed up for a race then trained for it, you should be aware that anything is possible, whining won’t change the problem.  The only thing you can change is your mental orientation to the problem.

Verbalizing a negative attitude will do one of two things, it could spread to others around you, causing them to become disoriented and lose sight of their path and goal; or they could recognize what is happening and do everything they can to avoid you. Either way, you become like a person with the flu, the only people who are willing to be around you are the ones who share in your misery.

While we spend many hours training our legs, our cores and our feet, something else happens to most of us, our minds get trained as well.  We start to look at obstacles differently, sometimes without even realizing it.  We almost get desensitized to them. Yes, there will be those mental ups and downs; emotional highs and lows.  The trick is to learn to deal with them.

Bandera 50k January 9, 2016

A positive attitude is what helps us break through “the wall”, that point where almost every cell in your body says stop.  You suddenly become so drained mentally, physically and emotionally, but somewhere in there are a few ounces of positiveness that keeps you going.  If you’ve trained and planned, stopping now will only hurt worse tomorrow.  So you keep moving, knowing that that little bit of positive, that little peek of hope, will multiply.

Thoughts tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies, you can’t afford to let them overtake your effort. Embrace a bad situation as a learning experience and push through it with a positive viewpoint. You are out there by choice and should be happy to have reached this point. Any complaining should be limited to the real problems, serious injuries, thing like that.  Complaining about having to cross a creek doesn’t move the creek, it just makes it more miserable.

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