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By:  Arianna Bradley Roth, LCSW


At the end of September 2015 I had one of those great running experiences where I was having such a good time I didn’t want to stop.  As I continued on the full moon appeared and it was a beautiful night with a great temperature for distance running.  I set out for a long run of at least 12 miles but felt strong and ended up running 18.5 miles!  I had not run that far since January 2011–before my two pregnancies and subsequent sciatica and other back trouble.
I felt very grateful to accomplish this run and began to wonder if I might have another chance at running a competitive and fast marathon.  Before this run I didn’t think my back could handle it, but thankfully it felt fine.
This run was another reminder to me that we never know what we’re capable of (whether in running or something else) until we get up and TRY hard but good things, and be willing to take a risk and maybe fail. 

I’ve experienced many setbacks in my running over the last few years, and I have tried to learn the lessons that are presented.  I’m not advocating running when too injured, but when you feel it’s safe.  I have focused on carefully pushing a little more when I’m able and gradually….often slowly, working towards my running goals.  Finally this year I am experiencing some steady progress.  Following are three important principles that have helped me succeed in improving my running performance and reaching my personal goals.  

  1.  KEEP TRYING again and again and again.  When I had to take breaks from running, I always started up again when my body could handle it.   From 2011-2014 I experienced many forced running breaks due to injury and pregnancy.  I started back with slow, easy runs and gradually built up to faster longer runs.  Whatever your important running goals are you will most likely experience barriers and setbacks.  In order to overcome these obstacles you must learn from the setbacks and failed attempts, devise a new plan and try again.
  2.  Staying CONSISTENT with my overall training.  While I can’t run as frequently as I used to, I can cross train frequently.  My training plan calls for 6 days a week of training and 1 day (Sunday) rest, and in 2015 I only missed 4 scheduled workouts.  Now that’s consistency!  To reach your big goals you must stay consistent with your training efforts.  Some days you will accomplish a lot and make big gains, and other days you may only move forward a little bit or not at all.  Staying consistent is the key.  Consistent training is one of the most powerful training elements, and can take a runner of any ability level and make them a significantly better runner.  This is a highly accessible training principle which any runner can incorporate, from the beginner to the elite athlete.
  3.  Stay POSITIVE/ Avoid victim thinking.  I have tried to focus on what I can do and not what I can’t do.  This creates a positive mindset which is very important in reaching personal goals.  I can no longer play tennis or do a heavy dead lift, but I can run, strength train and do many other fun cardio exercises.  This is what I focus on.  

Most importantly, I avoid taking on a “victim mindset,” or a “poor me, why did this bad thing happen to me” thought process.   This is one of the opposites of a positive mindset.  As a mental health therapist, I recognize that “victim” thoughts are very common in all of us.   At first they are enticing and seem like a good way to bring psychological comfort after experiencing a difficult running experience (or other life experience).   These thoughts can creep into our minds without even realizing it.   I could have easily become lost in negative “poor me” thoughts after I had my first baby and developed sciatica and other back troubles, forcing me to stop running multiple times.  After all, I had done nothing to bring on this difficult experience.  I was a victim.  But there is psychological danger in adopting a victim mindset.  Through my work as a therapist and personal life experience, I am keenly aware that there are NO benefits to this disempowering and negative way of thinking.  It has the power to destroy any runner’s strong training and racing mindset, and therefore, greatly hinder running performance.  If you find you are struggling with gaining a strong training and racing mindset, this type of thinking may be the reason why not.  

The SOLUTION is to take a personal mental inventory, recognize the negative thoughts and immediately change your line of thinking.  As you focus on realistically positive thoughts, thoughts of gratitude, possibility and hope, you will not only see a big improvement in your mood, but in your motivation and commitment to training.  When you DELIBERATELY create this positive mindset, improved running performance and PR’s begin to happen!      

As I consciously worked to incorporate these 3 principles into my training I began to see running success again!  It had been nearly 5 years since my last race, and in July 2015, I won the Deseret News Classic 5k, held in Salt Lake City, Utah.  In October 2015 I placed 3rd overall in the big Ten For Texas 10 mile race held in The Woodlands, Texas.  I was excited to run the 10 mile course in 1:05:51!  On Thanksgiving Day 2015 I ran a 5 mile race in 31:04, placing 4th overall.   In March 2016 I placed 5th overall in the competitive Woodlands Half Marathon, running it in 1:27:59.  If it wasn’t for leg cramps I would have run a half marathon personal best.  But that is another story for another time, and I am definitely not dwelling on the frustrating leg cramps.  Instead I am grateful to be healthy enough to train hard and race fast again, and am even more mentally committed and driven to setting a new half marathon PR this year (my PR is 1:26:46 set November 2010 at the San Diego Silver Strand Half Marathon, where I placed 3rd overall).  I also won the masters division in all of my races.  Most recently, I raced the Austin Cap 10k in April 2016, the 6th largest 10k in the country with a record 20,500 runners in this year’s field.   Despite the tough course with a significant amount of hills and hot and humid temperatures, I placed 12th overall and I’m the new Masters Division Champion!  I even set a huge new 10k personal best with my 39:37 finish time!  As a masters runner (I’m 43), competing against women in their 20’s and 30’s, I feel very blessed and grateful to be placing so well overall.  I credit a large part of my return to running success with following the above 3 powerful principles.                

Most likely you will experience some running related failures and setbacks along the way, but I encourage you to keep trying!   Learn how to fail successfully, another important positive mindset concept.  Don’t let your mind limit you, but rather let it become open to exciting possibilities.  Get specific and focus on one or two important goals and go for it!  The above principles apply to not only your running goals, but also goals you have set in other areas of your life.  It is tremendously exciting and fulfilling to not only reach but surpass a personal goal.  I wish you success!

As a licensed mental health therapist/ LCSW, nutrition counselor, holistic health & wellness & motivational counselor, and running coach, I focus on helping my client’s achieve their goals, whether they revolve around lasting health behavior change, weight loss/ fat loss or running their first 5k or setting a new half marathon personal best.  I would love the opportunity to help you reach your big goals!  Please e-mail me at:  roadrunnerabr@gmail.com

By:  Arianna Bradley Roth, LCSW

Author bio:   Arianna, a Utah native, now trains and resides in Houston.  She owns Total Fusion Fitness, LLC, where she assists client’s in-person and on-line, in make exciting body and mind transformations through personalized nutrition counseling, customized exercise program design, professional health behavior change counseling, running coaching, life coaching and mental health counseling.  Connect with Arianna on Facebook and subscribe to her healthy lifestyle blog found on her website:  www.totalfusionfitness.com


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 27th, 2017 at 12:47 pm and is filed under Utah Running. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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