Tuesday, February 07, 2012


For a very long time, I thought I did not believe in mantras. I've read the articles and heard people talking about mantras, but it just seemed weird to me.

I should probably clarify. The articles I read talked about "planning" your mantra and making sure you know what you are going to say when you need that extra boost.

In my mind, that was contrived and, frankly, sounded hokey. I need to sit down sometime and think about what I will say to myself when I am at mile 10 of a half marathon? Or in the middle of a big hill in Parkersburg? I don't think so.

I didn't give it much thought until recently when I was doing my speed workout. (You all know I hate speed workouts.) In the third "lap" I was pumping my arms, rolling my feet and trying so hard to go even faster. In my mind I kept repeating "You can do it! You can do it! You can do it!" over and over and over for the entire 3-minute lap.

During my 2-minute rest it dawned on me: I have a mantra!

The more I thought about it, I remember using that same chant in the last quarter mile of the Air Force Half when I was trying to pass a woman who wouldn't let me pass. And I remember thinking it while climbing the Eden Park hill in the Flying Pig Half Marathon.

I didn't have to plan it in advance -- when I needed a mantra one came to me. And it worked!

Do you use mantras? If so, how did you come up with it?

Tomorrow I'll post about my friend Deb's mantra during the Flying Pig.


Jen on the Edge said...

I live in a really hilly town, which means hill work is a must for runs and walks. When I first started running, one large, long hill in particular was a problem for me, but I kept attacking it because it was on the route for a race I'd be running. One day, I started mentally chanting "I'ma kick it's a**" repeatedly as I charged up. That was the first day I was able to run it. Now, whenever I face some sort of obstacle during a race, I use that mantra.

During another race, I got very stressed and started hyperventilating, so I started thinking "Breath calm, breath slow" over and over. It took me almost a mile, but I eventually calmed down.

So yes, I really think that mantras can be helpful.

Cindi said...

Jen - I love your hill mantra! It may pop in my head the next time I do a hilly race.

Jen on the Edge said...

Cindi, here's a post that tells the story of that mantra more thoroughly: http://jenontheedge.com/2010/09/21/ima/. As a runner, I've come a looooooong way since then.

Cindi said...

Jen - What a great blog post! Thanks for the link.

LauraZena said...

I have walked only 2 half marathons. Signed up for five more. I have found myself using 2 mantras. The first is, "This too shall pass". It might sound a bit pessimistic, but it works as a good reminder that the pain, bad weather, or bad situation is only temporary. It works outside of the marathon world too. :) The second is, "Hardcore!" HA! My second half was my first with rain (no thunder or lightning, thank goodness). A throw away poncho was comfortable enough to leave me just a bit damp. If anything, the rain kept us cool in Dallas in April. So "Hardcore!" helped me accept and embrace the weather.

Cindi said...

LauraZena -- You are right. My first thought was that your mantra was negative, but if it works for you, that is what counts! I like "hardcore" because you can almost use it as a chant to keep pace -- one syllable per step.

I'm glad you finally had a dry race. Makes it a little easier to finish, doesn't it.

Keep up the good work!