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It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mental Toughness,Achievement Goals and Kirk Edgerton

"Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road."
– Dag Hammarskj√∂ld
Form Tony: I like the quote but Dag must not of been  trail runner. If  I didn't look down I would trip more then I already do.

Make sure that your  goal is concrete ,measurable, attainable and the achievement or outcome is crystal clear. To illustrate, one of my goals is to run 50 miles within a week or seven days. I can either run every day; six days a week; five days a week or whatever. All I have to do, is calculate miles per run and multiply that by the number of days that I run. Notice, that my goal is measurable and easily determined. I will be either successful or not successful.  I have no one to blame but me if I don’t  achieve my goal. However, when I achieve my goal, I feel  great.

Make sure that your goal is realistic. Past performance can be a good guide  to determine expectation of success. Since I have a history, and keep track of my running distances, I know by now , if my goal is realistic. When I started  to keep track of my running distances per day, I developed a baseline  of performance.  Keep your expectations and goals realistic.

I have selected running 50 miles per week as a goal for the following reasons.  1. This distance allows me to run any race distance  up to 50 K without having to make major training  adjustments. 2. I use that distance as a barometer for my health. Having a goal not only means thinking about the future, it also takes into account planning, researching, assessing, evaluating, practicing/and/or conditioning. Having to look forward to something, that’s important, is a mental health principle that contributes to my well-being.

Mental toughness , in sports, takes into account achievement goals and the ability to persist or continue in spite of internal or external obstacles. An internal obstacle might be related to physical pain. So, if one is in pain . it is important to evaluate this condition. It might be smart to discontinue the activity or to re frame one’s thinking. One can acknowledge the pain but re frame and call it “discomfort.” Instead of thinking about the mountain or  the hill ahead as “ too tough or I can’t” re frame and call that hill or mountain “my friend.”  Tony, while running, refers to the hills as his friend. As a young boy, Tony’s father told him to like what he was doing regardless of what it was. Tony’s still following his father’s advice.

“I can’t” has to be replaced with thoughts like “pick up your feet,” “put 1 foot in front of the other,” “ I am going to run to the next tree “ and so forth. In other words, replace negative thoughts with positive thinking. Negative thinking tends to snowball and must therefore  be stopped and confronted immediately. Do not sabotage or allow the negative or irrational thinking to interfere with performance because it can.

Mental- physical toughness also takes into account the ability to stay in the present ,while paying attention to your body. Be mindful of your breathing and  acknowledge the  tightness, stiffness or discomfort going on within your body. Frequently, monitor your breathing, especially belly breathing. In scanning your body, begin with your head, go to your throat, your chest, shoulders , etc. and continue to scan all the way down to your toes. Stay in the present to allow yourself the ability to reduce your discomfort.  This is called mindfulness.

It’s also helpful be in a supportive environment for nurturing during difficult times. Human connections release neurotransmitters like oxytocin  that can be helpful during times of stress and feeling discouraged and/or aloneness. Don Freeman talked about the running community and how much assistance he  received during his Angels Crest  100 mile run. Don was extremely thankful and acknowledged that his success was dependent on his fellow man.

If your goal or goals provide meaning in your life, you likely know why you’re doing what you’re doing. The importance of your goal success  is related to its meaning and passion in your life. With meaning and  passion, you have a clear focus and your priorities  lined up correctly.  The higher the correlation between success, meaning and passion , the greater the chance of completion and well-being.

Stay tuned for additional information and insights regarding mental toughness. Remember, life, and  life experiences are the journey. There are many roads to take. Just  make sure to navigate safely and avoid dead  ends when you can. While on your journey, keep moving, smiling, laughing, and deep breathing.

Kirk Edgerton was my guest on last Thursday’s show. Learn how overweight, fast food alcoholic drinking Kirk, found meaning in his life through physical exercise. This young man was going nowhere fast until about age 25, when he made his first breakthrough. His second crisis resolved at about age 35. Learn about his story.

Kirk runs the Fleet Feet, Fair Oaks, California store. He has competed in triathlons ,xterra  biking races, and running races ranging from 5K to 100 miles. This is his story.


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