The Mind, The Muscle, The Mantra

The mantra is quite possibly the best secret weapon you could have during a race. The more thought you put into it, the more meaning it carries, and the more profound the results. For myself, so much of racing and mid distance running is buried in the conversation I have with myself on the pavement. In my last race, I had a slight pain in my left ankle (dorsal flexion) starting around mile 1 and lasted for about 2 miles. I had to brainwash my mind to believe it did not exist and that indeed my leg muscles would be perfectly capable of running painlessly to the end, and with a PR. (You can read how that ended up for me).

I am lucky to be surrounded by a fabulous fitness family at my Y (you know who you are!) who are so hardcore about working out every day and supporting each other along the way. Every day, every class, everyone gives 110%, and somedays even more. Can it ever be to a fault? Is there something to be gained from pain? Consider those moments when you want to quit – your body is making a breakthrough. Sure you may have to endure some pain to get there. First and foremost, understanding your body’s limitations is essential to not overdoing it and avoiding the downside of ‘no pain, no gain’. Enter, the “CrossFit disease”, also known as Rhabdomyolysis, which is a condition in which damaged skeletel muscle deteriorates rapidly. So herein lies the pain in the gain. Essentially within the CrossFit arena (and I do not partake in CrossFit), hard work is the only work that carries any weight (no pun intended) and push you, they will. Work beyond your limit and not only do your muscle fibers start to break down but your cellular structure. Broken cells leach protein into your blood stream and wreak havoc for your kidneys, which have to clean it up, but only it’s not designed to filter through protein so it is overtaxed. Take a look at those arms now, they’re engorged, swollen, and broken down. Oh and if your kidneys fail, well you could find yourself in a lethal situation. So in the case of CrossFit and extreme weightlifting, and the Rhabdo potential, there is nothing to be gained from pain. There is a reason why exercise is studied as a science, not an art form.

Start your day, the Jillian Michaels way!

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Jillian Michaels

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want my workouts to chase me over a cliff of nausea. So, back to more civilized mantras. I do often wonder about branding and related mantras. Take a look at what we wear and consider if it has any impact on how you perform? Are you extra tough those days you wear that “Beast Mode” t-shirt? How much does what you wear play into your psyche? All of these brands employ strong social brands that enable fans and supporters alike to send in tweets and Instagram photos of themselves clad in favorite brands, contributing to a larger community sharing the same mantra. It certainly does something powerful to the psyche, no doubt. A brief sampling below:

Under Armour#IWill

Wonder Woman Alter Ego, Under Armour

Wonder Woman Alter Ego, Under Armour Tshirt (yes I feel like WW when I wear it)

NikeJust Do It | AsicsSound Mind, Sound Body

Saucony#FindYourStrong (Especially on those long runs where you don’t think you can take another minute)

Athleta#PowertotheShe | MizunoNever Settle

Then there are other phrases, words of encouragement heard around the fitness world. Do these encourage you to work hard or do they instill a sense a fear of failure?

Sweat is fat crying / Move it or lose it / Go hard or go home

Work through the pain / You’ve got this

If you still look pretty afterward, you didn’t do it right

Separate yourself from everyone else / Be better than the next person

Pain is weakness leaving the body

So, my question to you: Do these phrases make you want to hit the gym, or do they prevent you from doing your best?


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