I Think I can…I Think I Can…

Hey friends! It’s been a while…life got in the way a little bit but I figured I would go a different route with things today and share a bit of my personal knowledge with sport psychology.

In just 5 weeks I will be graduating with my Master’s degree in Sport Psychology and boy does that feel good. I want to give you a little background on why this is so important to me and how it could really help you in the future. Ever since I started running I have struggled with anxiety. My anxiety was strictly related to training/competition and does not really appear in any other part of my life. If I were to do a tough workout my anxiety would flare up and react similar to someone who has asthma. I would wheeze and if it was bad enough I would ultimately break down in tears. It was terrifying for not only me but my coaches, teammates, and trainers who were unsure of how to handle the situation.

Before my junior year everyone just assumed I had asthma and even my doctor stated so but I was in disbelief because my inhalers never worker. Skepticism lead me to see a new doctor at MSU and it is there where we discovered the true issue…anxiety. I definitely did not have asthma. These lungs were as healthy as can be! Now it was time to seek help on how to control my anxiety so I could perform at my best ability.

On my search to get help I ran into one of the people whom I now consider a wonderful friend and mentor. She helped me not only transform my running career but opened my eyes up to a whole new field I knew nothing about. I used to think sport psychology was for people who were sick or too weak to handle their own problems. I never wanted anyone to help me with my problems because in my head I was perfectly fine, but deep down I knew I wasn’t.
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I want to give everyone a few tips that have helped me throughout the years to control my anxiety and become a better athlete.

  • focus only on the things you can control

This is really really hard, especially if you are a competitor. We always want to be better than the person next to us or in front of us and often times we lose our focus. We start comparing ourselves to our friends or other competitors and lose focus on who is really most important. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a cue word to say to yourself when you catch yourself losing focus.

  • find your flow

If you get a chance look up flow. If you have done yoga of any sort you have probably practiced flow. Flow is essentially being in the moment. Your entire focus is on one thing and only one thing. Every ounce of your being is devoted to the task at hand. For example, a lot of us will get “lost” in our runs and 3, 4, 5 miles will pass before we even realize it. That is flow. You are in the moment and enjoying the run for what it is. Maybe you are embracing the scenery, or maybe you’re focused on hitting a time. Whatever it is, you’re in the zone. Practice on being in the zone for a long period of time. You might surprise yourself!

  • set goals

We have all been told to set goals but how many of us actually do it now that we’re not forced? I am pretty guilty of this. I have a goal of qualifying for Boston but the only person who knows this goal is myself and I guess everyone who reads this now 🙂 . I tell my athletes all of the time to have a person…like in Grey’s Anatomy. Who is your Christina or Meredith? Studies have shown time and time again that if you let someone else hold you accountable for your goals you are more likely to achieve them.

If you have any questions about sport psychology I would be happy to answer them for you. We are just touching the surface here…but it’s a surface worth touching for sure. Most of you know how important it is to have a healthy mind when exercising and sport psychology can often provide us the missing piece to the puzzle.

I hope you enjoyed reading about this as much as I enjoyed writing about it and like I said, if you have questions don’t hesitate! I absolutely love sharing my experiences and am happy to help!

Until next time…