Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Mantra

Recently, I read an article in Runner's World Magazine about the impact our thinking has on our running performance.  The author mentions a study by Samuele Marcora, in which athletes were taught certain motivational phrases, like "don't give up," and were reminded to use those phrases while exercising.  The study found that the mantras "allowed subjects to reduce their perceived effort during exercise and increased their time-to-exhaustion."  

Another RW article, "The Magic of Mantras," lists the mantras of elite runners, like Scott Jurek, who repeated "This is what you came for" as he pushed himself to break the American 24-hour record in 2010.  One of my favorite motivational phrases is from Chrissy Wellington, 4-time Ironman World Champion, who wore a wristband that reminded her to "Never, ever give up -- and smile!"

As I'm preparing for a big race next weekend, I'm reflecting on what mantras might motivate me to keep pressing on.  In the past, I've written this Bible verse on my wristband: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me."  But I like to make informed decisions, so before choosing a mantra for my upcoming 100-miler, I did a little research on other Bible verses that could be motivational for a runner or other athlete.  Here is what I found: (all quotations are from the New American Bible)

On endurance:
  • "I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me." Philippians 4:13
  • "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race the lies before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith." Hebrews 12:1-2
  • "Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up." Galations 6:9
  • "He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound. Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint." Isaiah 40: 29-31
  • "This God who girded me with might, kept my way unerring, Who made my feet swift as a deer's, set me safe on the heights." Psalm 18: 33-34
  • "Rely on the mighty Lord; constantly seek his face." Psalm 105:4
  • "Be brave and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31: 6
On taking the right path (good for trail runners):
  • "The Lord will guide you always . . . He will renew your strength." Isaiah 58:11
  • "I command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1: 9
  • "In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9
  • I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you." Psalm 32:8
  • "I will lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them." Isaiah 42:16
On running through the night:
  • "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path." Psalm 119:105
  • "You are my lamp, O Lord! O my god, you brighten the darkness about me. For with your aid I run..." 2 Samuel 22: 29-30
  • "You, Lord, give light to my lamp; my God brightens the darkness about me." Psalm 18:29
  • "I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight." Isaiah 42: 16

On tackling a seemingly impossible task/distance:
  • "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20
  • "Everything is possible to one who has faith." Mark 9:23
  • "For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7
  • "Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16: 3
  • "I will go before you and level the mountains." Isaiah 45:2 (Thanks, God!  I could really use that in Bandera.)
On doing one's best:
  • "Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others." Colossians 3:23
  • "Run so as to win." 1 Corinthians 10:24
On running for God:
  • "Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:16
  • "We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint." Romans 6: 3-5
  • "At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees." Hebrews 12:11-12
  • "Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14
  • "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • "Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly." 1 Corinthians 10:25
  • "So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
This is just a sampling.  I won't be like the preacher in Pollyanna and claim that I stayed up all night and read the entire Bible in my search for verses. (That guy must have been lying -- am I the only one who's been bothered by that scene since my childhood?)  But I think this a good start.  I plan to print out a few of these and tape them onto my drop bags, because I know I'll need a boost at various times during the race.  

Ultimately, though, I'm pretty certain this will be my mantra during the final loop:

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