Sometimes Your Head Wins …

… but not in the way you anticipated.

I went into the gym tonight with every intention of running about three miles to start my workout. My body – and my brain – clearly had a different idea.

Let me back up a little bit here. As you may or may not have figured out, my life has been a little all over the place since I returned from vacation in July. Yes, the gym has, as always, been my one constant, and my sanity. But I’ve changed jobs (good move). Had my not-quite-relationship-but-sure-as-hell-felt-like-one end (again … and while it was right, it was still heartbreaking). Gained a new roommate (seriously good upgrade).

Through it all, you would think what has always been my solace, my me-time, my stress relief, (if I need to translate, it’s a nice, long run) would see me through. But since I got back from vacation two – yes, TWO – months ago, my runs have SUCKED. We’re talking, having to talk myself into finishing three miles. Feeling like I wanted to die every second of it.

So imagine my surprise when, tonight, as I dragged my exhausted butt into the gym (yes, the new job was a great move, but this working all day, five days a week is tiring!! The good news: sleeping like a baby for a change. Crap. It’s 45 minutes to bedtime. Please don’t let me have just jinxed myself), convinced that I could make it through three lousy miles before moving on to a little shoulder work … and kept going. For four miles. Then five. Then six. Then an extra half, just for good measure. And I felt like I could have kept going, if I really felt like it. For the first time in a long time, I stopped running because I’d gotten bored … not because my body or my heart rate or my breathing told me that I needed to stop. I felt good. I felt strong. I felt … like it was about dang time!

I guess my point here is that while I’m a huge believer that our heads are often what tells us to quit before our bodies really need to, sometimes we can surprise ourselves. I fully anticipated another sub-par run this evening, but when I found my groove, and just let myself go, my head started telling me today was the day I got back to form. Today is the day I forget about the chaos that has been my life throughout the last two months, even if it was only for an hour. Today was the day I ran like I was supposed to run.

Elite Athletes Don’t Give Up – Why Should You?

With the NFL Draft kicking off last night, I got to thinking about the excitement and anticipation that each of these NFL-bound college stars are experiencing this weekend. Listening to some of the stories these men shared – personal health scares, parents’ illnesses, poor upbringings – and having read about the sheer volume of tragedy that Clemson’s own 2013 first-rounder (in case you missed it, DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins was the #27 pick, chosen by the Houston Texans) – it hasn’t always been an easy road to success. The one thing that I find so impressive about these men, that rings true with so many elite athletes: their positive attitudes and their incredible determination to be the best at their position and at their sport.

Though most elite athletes are born with an innate and natural talent, they have to put in the same time and hard work that us “normal” people do to find success. But the one component that both the elite athlete and the weekend warrior do have in common? The mental element. It really does play a big part in not only wanting to succeed, but envisioning yourself as a success. Not only thinking you can be stronger, or faster, or better … but knowing you will be.

By this time of the year, many a casual exerciser has thrown in the towel. They got bored. They got busy. They weren’t seeing the results they wanted. They did see the results they wanted (just a heads up on that one: putting the weight back on is easier than taking it off … again). If you met your goals, great. It’s time to start working towards a new one. If you didn’t, why did you give up? Elite athletes don’t stay elite by being satisfied by what they’ve accomplished – they find the little things they can make even better. They don’t give up because they miss a catch, or come in last, or lose a game – the pick up, dust off, and think about what went wrong, and how to make it right next time.

It’s easy, too, to let the “stuff” of everyday life get in the way. But if you pay attention to sports, you see the struggles and the tragic stories that many of these elite athletes – people many grown adults admire and children look up to, even idolize – and they still come out on top. It’s not because they are lucky (for the most part). It’s not because they are rich (some of the greatest players have come from nothing). It’s because they recognize their talent, and they do what it takes to help ease the pain in their lives. Though many of the wrongs in life can’t be righted, and many of the struggles can’t be forgotten, and disease and injury doesn’t always go away, they don’t let their misfortunes bring them down. They use them as motivation. A source of fire. A reason to be not only the best they can be – but the best, period.

Bottom line, if you’re in a rut, or on the brink of giving up (or already have), check your attitude – a little positive thinking goes a long way. Check your head – it will try to tell you that you can’t do something your body is very capable of doing … so don’t let those negative thoughts hold you back. And perhaps most importantly, let the bad situations fuel you. A good workout should be a release … and on those worst days, the harder you push, the better you will feel when you’re done.

Now, on to the second and third round today … and the question being, where will Andre Ellington end up playing next fall (we should – hopefully – find out this evening)?