PUSHING Yourself During Exercise: Positive Self Talk

This is a series on pushing yourself while exercising. It can be applied to any exercise, but in this series I’ll talk about running and walking/running up steps. Those are the two exercises that I do daily – one or the other.

My Pushing Yourself Series Covers:

1. Getting Out the Door to Exercise.
2. Visual Imagery.
3. Shaming Yourself.
4. Positive Self Talk.
5. Delay of Gratification.
6. Coaching Yourself.
7. Competition.

This blog post is the fourth in the series about pushing yourself to get the most out of your physical exercise and is entitled, “Positive Self Talk“.

This technique of pushing myself to go harder when I otherwise might not involves me talking to myself. Sometimes I talk to myself just in my mind. However, if nobody is around it’s much more motivational to talk to myself out-loud.

As I said in the last post, “Shaming Yourself,” I sometimes notice that I’m just cruising through my exercise. I’m good at pushing it at least once per session but when that push is over sometimes I settle down into complacency, just happy that I successfully pushed myself to do something I wasn’t really planning on.

One of the real keys to having fun while exercising is that I never plan on pushing. That’s something you might want to try as well. Put no expectations on your exercise session. Your only requirement should be – getting out the door and doing it. What happens when you’re out there is wide open for whatever happens. You might feel great that day, you might feel on the verge of injury and need to take it slowly. You might have a stomach cramp, but you might use that to your advantage by learning to push through it instead of go more slowly. You might use it to your advantage to learn what to do with a cramp during a race.

If the pace and effort of the exercise is left to be wide open you are surprised and happy when you go beyond what you might have normally done. This is a very positive motivator because there was nothing major planned, but you pushed it – even once – and made it a more beneficial session than you thought it would be.

Contrast this to pre-planning what your session will consist of. If you plan out every detail and make it a strictly followed formula the exercise won’t be fun. I’ve done this. I’ve planned out every sprint on the bicycle, 30 sprints followed by 5 miles of slow spinning followed by 1 mile of time trial followed by 2 miles of slow spinning… etc.

It’s boring to adhere to a tightly planned session. It’s so much more fun to keep the entire session wide open and push yourself to do as much as you can do. I’ve found that it works out much better. I enjoy the exercise way more and I usually push myself as hard or harder than I would have if I’d planned out the session.

Better too if you don’t plan because if you don’t feel 100% and the exercise plan calls for sprints that day you’ll feel bad about not doing them. You’ll feel worse when you try them and injure yourself. If you had an unplanned workout you’d not have considered sprinting when you weren’t 100% and instead you’d have done a slow-medium session and been happy you didn’t injure yourself.

Getting back to Positive Self Talk…

I start talking to myself during a run…

“Feels great. Man what a day to be outside when so many people are sitting at home watching the TV and filling their head with nonsense. How many people are outside right now exercising in this town of 460,000 people? A thousand? How many are running through a park like this one? 100? How many are in this park? Just 4. Man, you are one of four people able to enjoy exercising like this… Cows. Birds. Lots of shade. Nothing like that Coconut Grove 5-miler in Miami that morning after a 20 mile bike ride. Nothing like that. This is easy. It’s like the earth is moving and I’m just moving my legs to catch up to it. Effortless. What an amazing day today… I was able to edit those 120 web pages, optimize my Google Adsense ads, get to the bank, email mom, etc.”

I talk to myself about everything positive that I see around me and that I feel in my body.

I talk about my breathing, my strength, my happiness, my dedication to exercising… the work I did that day, the good things that happened recently… I talk about short term goals for that night or for the next day. I reason out the best thing to focus on next online… the Aim for Awesome blog needs to have a tighter focus… how could I focus it more? What do people want to read about daily? Can I keep posting such a wide variety of topics or should I narrow it down to exercise, mind, philosophy, meditation? Should I start the relationships series I was thinking about?

Positive self talk helps me take the focus away from the run, usually resulting in a longer run and a very fulfilling run.

I’m always looking forward to my exercise time because I do some positive self talk every time I run. I really enjoy being outdoors and recollecting all the positive things that have happened since I last talked to myself! I also enjoy it a lot because there are no expectations put on the session before it starts – and yet it might turn into the most amazing session just because I’m working myself up with the positive talk. It’s getting me psyched up and my adrenaline starts pumping!

Try this – and let me know how it goes!

Best of Life!


Forty-Nine Years Old and Ready to Learn Something New

Forty-nine Years Old - What's Next?
Exploring caves in Thailand with my daughter. Running in the jungle, and exploring caves, are a bit scary for her at 5.

The big four nine just hit the other day and woke me up to a rather pleasant reality.


Even if cancer is right now raging through my body, I’ll likely make it to fifty years old. I wasn’t ever sure that was going to happen. At times I was sure I’d never see fifty or maybe not even mid-forties.

But I’m still here kicking, and I’m in pretty damn good shape, as long as my foot problem stays quiet. I still don’t know what the issue plaguing me really is, and I’m STILL not going to these Thai doctors. The foot hurts very slightly now after I run the trail for a couple hours. Then I will be standing in bare feet on the hard ground and BANG! the pain shoots through the bottom of my foot like hot lead for a few seconds.

During the run – it hurts not at all. I’m done trying to figure it out, just thought I’d mention it here in case any of you have had something similar. I’m sticking to my latest diagnosis – a nerve is dorked up and it will take time to go away completely.

No problem. I can live like this for a while. After all, I’m forty-nine, and I cannot believe I made it this far. If you made it too – CONGRATS!

I’ve accomplished so much with my physical body during my life because of my mother’s insistence that I, at seven years old, join the local soccer team. I played for eleven years and had a blast. I made great friends. I was fit since I was seven. I’ve been in various stages of ‘fit’ for forty-two years all because my mom realized getting involved in a team sport was going to be good for me.


If there’s one thing I’m going to try hard to do for my daughter, it’s get her involved in something physical that she likes doing. I mean really likes. She can play whatever sport she wants, or none at all. I just hope she loves to do something that works out her cardiovascular system often. Swimming, biking, aerobics, walking, running, whatever it is.

Of course I’m secretly hoping that I can get her to love trail running. This is going to be difficult from where we are because the trails here are scary to her at five years old. She has already seen plenty of snakes – monocled cobras, king cobras, kraits, and thirty other species I’ve caught and shown her over the years. She has seen turtles in the wild, seven-feet long monitor lizards that look like Komodo dragons. She’s seen monkeys growl at us like they were going to attack. It’s going to be real hard to get her to love trail running, or even walking through Thailand’s rainforest. Still, I have to plant the seed until we get somewhere that seems a little less foreboding.

Before my foot started acting up I was on track to run my first ultra-distance race. I’ve never raced longer than ten miles before. No half-marathon, no marathon. I don’t think I’d really enjoy a ‘race’ per-se. Maybe not at this age. My glory-days of competition have passed about two decades ago, and I’m quite fine with setting my own goals and competing against myself. Still, for the sake of giving my family something to talk about for the rest of their lives I’m going to do a 50K trail run (race) here in Thailand probably before 2015 becomes 2016. Everything depends on The Foot, but I think it will be on board with the plan by then.

While I’ve been babying my foot since January, I’ve been looking into new ways to make money online. I’ve already done so much with ebusiness, writing books, creating websites, shooting videos for YouTube, and even the occasional guest post for other big websites.

I feel like I need to reinvent myself this year. I need to learn something new so I can create something I’ve never done before. Honestly, I’m tired of writing ebooks. I’m tired of creating websites. I’m tired of tweaking my old websites so they stay ranked high in Google.

This site is doing pretty well, around six-hundred pageviews per day. That’s great considering I do very little here. It isn’t enough to incite me to put a lot of work into this site, it’s here for my own (and your) amusement, but I don’t make any serious money here at all. It’s a muse. I wish I could figure out how to make it my main focus because I’d love nothing more than to run trails, shoot photos and videos of trails, and write about it here. I think being in Thailand limits me quite a bit with what is possible. Few trail runners here!

I’ll be doing some audiobooks over the next few weeks. I hope this will bring my ebook library back up to its previous earning levels. I was making $2,000 per month just from ebooks a few years ago. That was nice coin, but it has dwindled to about 1/10th of that today. I have passive income from other online projects, but it’d sure be nice to have another $1,800 per month again!

I fantasize about learning to code iPhone (iOS) applications, Android apps, web apps. I hate the idea of programming, but I love the idea of what I can create once I know how to do it.

I’d like to learn how to play the drums. I’d like to learn how to draw really well. Paint too. Sometimes I think I should learn to create online graphics to an expert degree. That wouldn’t take long, I’m semi-competent already.

And then I think – I want to get the hell AWAY from the computer.

What if I had a pizza shop? A camping shop? Trout fishing shop? Climbing shop at Railay Beach – Tonsai – or some other great climbing spot? What if I became a meditation teacher? Maybe I should create a podcast about living in Thailand? I think helping to save Thailand’s wildlife would be rewarding. Then I think, so too would saving kids somewhere.

I’m nearly fifty and there are still SO MANY options. So many ways to go. I didn’t think it would be like this. Maybe you’re close to the same age and you’re wondering what choices you have.

I figure I might have thirty years left. I tell myself I have one or two because I don’t want to waste time doing anything that doesn’t really ‘matter’ or mean something. If I really have thirty more years, I can do anything. It’s like starting over at eighteen years old and thinking I’ll live to fifty. Same difference.

No matter what situation you find yourself in today – know this…

You have dozens, if not hundreds of options you could choose from to make your life very different from what it is today. Start considering them, and even moving toward something you’ve wondered if you ‘could do’ someday.

You CAN do something.

You just need to get started and make it happen.

I’ll run 30+ miles by the end of this year. What do you have planned?