My Favorite Lies I Tell Myself

Can we talk about lies for a sec?

It’s the Holiday season. I know we’re all telling some lies right now.

Thanks Aunt Mable, this orange diamond-patterned sweater was just what I wanted!

Sorry, but we can’t come to Jimmy’s recital that night, we have to _______

I can’t workout while I’m on vacation

Stop right there. Feel free to tell all the little white lies you need to to survive holiday chaos, but give yourself a gift you deserve and stop lying to yourself about all the ways athletic success is not in your future!

Lying to ourselves is a natural protection mechanism. When we have a big dream, a goal, a hope, we tend to tell ourselves it can’t happen. The real world is a dangerous place for a dream; dreams are much safer shut up forever inside our heads. Let’s look a couple of my most common tactics for keeping my dreams locked inside my head:

By the time I achieve such-and-such goal, everyone who is already doing that will have moved on to bigger and better things.

It may be true. By the time I can run a sub-80 minute half marathon, anyone who is doing that now will probably be running faster.

I’ve got the wrong build for a runner. I’m too muscular, too powerfully built, too heavy all around.

Again, there may be some validity to that. Every pound (of muscle, fat, or sacks of sand) that I’m carrying around is making running harder work. The muscles in my arms and shoulders that make me a fast skier are slowing me down on every run.

Do me a favor. Pick one of these arguments and poke some holes in it. Seriously, grab a pen and paper and jot down a reason why one of these lies is a load of you-know-what. I know you can see these holes; I see some of them too. When I write out these lies it’s hard not to see the them.

Which is exactly what I want to do now for you. Below are a couple of my favorite lies I hear people telling themselves ALL THE TIME.

LIE # 1) Taking my sport to a higher level requires more time, money and/or equipment than I have.

Love this one. It’s so easy to believe! AND there is an element of truth in it. Taking anything to a higher level requires you to put something into it that you’re not putting in now. The real lie here is that you don’t have the means of adding anything to your current efforts.

Get out the piece of paper on which you blew holes in the lies I tell myself. Write down one example of what you consider to be “athletic wishful thinking.” Below it write the first three excuses that come to mind as to why this thing is unattainable for you.

Achieving any goal is a multi-faceted pursuit. Maybe you don’t have the time to double the length of your workouts. Maybe you do have knee trouble that prevents you from running at all. Maybe you don’t have the money for a gym membership. One option would be to find a way to make time, re-allocate your money, etc. But you’ve heard that line of thinking too many times already. Let’s try something different.

Below your three excuses you’re going to write out three things you could do to that would benefit the pursuit of your “wishful thinking” goal. You can focus on a solution to your excuses if you want (I don’t have time to double my workouts, but I can learn and make each one more effective. I don’t have money for a gym membership, but I can buy a set of dumbbells and work out at home.) OR you can focus on completely different aspects of your goal. Need ideas? Take a look at this list. I bet you can tweak at least two of these things to improve your athletic life and take one step closer to your goal:

  • Sleeping habits
  • Diet
  • Arrangement of daily schedule
  • Access to social groups centered around training
  • Goal setting
  • Taking care of your equipment
  • Injury prevention

Bottom line is that yes, making improvements DOES require more of something. If you don’t have it to give in one area, look in another area!

LIE# 2) I would train more if it were more fun.

The hidden lie you are telling yourself here is that training isn’t fun. How do I know that’s a lie? You’re reading a blog from a site called Endurance Efficacy! Don’t tell me training isn’t fun. You just have a focus problem, meaning you’re focused on all the negative aspects! You’re thinking about running alone in the cold and dark after work on a Tuesday in December. Or something like that..I hear people do things like that this time of year…

Do I sometimes tell myself training is no fun? Absolutely! And my entire identity is centered around this supposed premise that I love endurance sports. When I have a lousy workout, or skip a workout entirely because I’m dreading it so much, do you think I might have a mini identity crisis right then and there? YUP

So what to do? Get out your paper one last time (promise it’s the last time) and write down the last workout you can remember that was fun. Type II fun (things that are only fun afterward) is okay too. Now write 3 reasons why it was fun, leaving a space beneath each.

Fun Workout: Monday’s easy run with Chris
#1) Training with somebody
#2) Felt good
#3) New loop

Now beneath each reason, break it down even farther. WHY does this quality make for a fun workout?

#1) Training with somebody
Surrounding myself with like-minded people makes me feel great about what I’m doing. Knowing I have training buddies helps me stay enthusiastic about solo-workouts too.
#2) Felt good
Reassurance that I’m doing something right and making progress. Not to mention I love feeling like my body is getting stronger and working efficiently!
#3) New loop
Not knowing what’s around the next bend keeps me interested. I get bored when things are too predictable; a workout, a meal plan, a relationship, etc. Plus I love feeling like I’m getting to know my surroundings better, discovering the secrets of my current town.

Holy smokes, suddenly I’m stoked to go out for my next workout! The truth is that once you’ve identified what makes a workout fun, and dug a little deeper than your surface response, you unveil ways in which you can incorporate these elements into more workouts!

Did I mention I majored in Psychology at Dartmouth? I love this stuff! A large component of endurance sports is getting inside your own head, spending some time in there, and getting comfortable. If you’re also interested in the psychology of endurance, look for more posts in the future! The following are some common themes for lies we tell ourselves:

Fun/motivation, lack of equipment, time, money, physical limitations, “not athletic,” “not competitive,” family and friends don’t like sports, age, location, lack of knowledge…

The list goes on and on. But is there a different way of thinking about each and every one? Absolutely. There is no lie that can’t be undone with a little work. And I’m here to help you with that work.

And if you want to help me disentangle myself from some of my own favorite lies, leave me a comment below and tell me the holes you discovered in my two personal lies listed above.

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