“You’re stronger than you think”
“One step at a time”
“I really wish I hadn’t eaten the 5kg bucket of prawn vindaloo I bought at that car boot sale”
Mantras are a useful thing to have in your runner’s toolbox*. Some of you will already use them, some won’t. I’m fairly certain many of you will have been doing it without even realising it. Just in case any of you are scratching your heads and thinking “what is he talking about?” (or “what has any of this got to do with plankton-munching cartilaginous fish of the myliobatidae family?”), a mantra is a short sentence or phrase repeated over and over again**. A good mantra can motivate you through a tough run, help to keep your breathing in rhythm, and generally focus the mind on the task in front of you (or it can work the other way round, serving as a distraction from heavy legs or screaming lungs).
Anyway, there is no set list of approved mantras to choose from, and you’re really only limited by your imagination. I thought I’d share one that popped into my head during a late night 8-miler earlier this week. I’d been idly thinking** about the importance of having a goal-oriented approach to training (and the fact that I don’t have a goal-oriented approach to training), and the following little ditty was suddenly lodged firmly in my brain, to the tune of “Gold” by Spandau Ballet:
“Goal! Always believe in your vole”.
For eight bloody miles.
To be fair, towards the end of the run it was mostly drowned out by the sounds of my own whimpering and teeth-gnashing while trying to stuff my socks in my ears.
Annoyingness (real word) aside, this particular mantra only really makes sense if you have a pet vole that perches on your shoulder during runs, whispering words of encouragement to you in a squeaky rodent voice.
Obviously, such a thing doesn’t exist, and anyone who says otherwise is clearly mad. And anyway, it’s rude to eavesdrop on someone who is asking perfectly reasonable questions in a pet shop.
So, that was my mantra. What are your favourites? The more original the better; let’s leave all the cringeworthy “no pain no gain” stuff to the chaps with the wraparound sunglasses and the bare-chested high-fives. A clumsily-scrawled picture of you with a talking vole will go to my favourite.
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* Along with a sensible nutrition strategy, a mental map of all the best toilet stops and a selection of spanners. ** To be honest, that’s the only sort of thinking I do.