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Jennifer McBride – [Dis]comfort Zones and Mental Mojo

Am not sure if this happens to everyone in winter, but as the mornings get colder and colder the effort to get out the door and exercise with a positive frame of mind gets harder and harder. I am very fortunate enough to be a part of an inspiring group of women who have entered the Catch Fitness 20-week challenge. There has been much chat amongst us about where our mojos disappear to at times and also what methods we use to keep focused and pushing ourselves when really, at times, I want to do is stay at home, eat and keep warm.

For me being out of my comfort zone and my mojo are pretty much linked to the little voice in my head and the mental battle I have with myself.

Due to a waning mojo, over the past few weeks, I have been working on training my mind as much as my body. A motivational slogan popped up on Facebook a few weeks ago that said, “The body won’t go where your mind doesn’t push it.” I am beginning to realise that mental training is just as important as the physical. Recently I have probably had to work harder on getting my mind in the right space in order for my body to follow.

Currently one of my goals is to improve my 5km run time, which not only requires me to push myself out of my usual meandering run style it also requires me to quieten the doubts and fears in my mind to be able to push myself. Usually the run starts out okay then my mind starts screaming, “Slow down! Warning! Warning! Your lungs are about to explode!” Of course they never do but unfortunately that little voice sometimes wins and I do slow down. This leads to feeling annoyed with myself and with that annoyance negative thoughts creep in about my perceived lack of effort and a bit of my mojo disappears. With my last couple of interval sessions I have been working on silencing the mind with breathing and not panicking about time and speed. Am trying to move my mind into the positive as I run as often my thought pattern is along these lines – running too fast I worry that I am going to keel over and running too slow – I worry that I’m not going to get the time I am aiming for. Either way both these ways of thinking means that I am thinking in the negative. So I have been changing too fast to – Ooh I am doing good today, and if I am a bit slow I try and think – good time but just push a bit more.

I find myself in the same situation with personal training as well. If I dwell on how hard it’s going to be (again this is an area where I am usually well out of my comfort zone!) then it’s bound to feel worse than it is. My trainer sent me a message last week which said, ‘See you tomorrow – bring your muscles!’ which has helped with turning my thought pattern around. Sounds crazy but for me separating my body from my mind enables me to be in charge of those muscles and takes away the panic factor of how hard I am going to be working. Pessimism and doubt is like a road block – you have to believe to achieve.