Does anyone else ever finish a run with a hand-clap or mini fist pump in the air? I do that quite often and it puts a fabulous exclamation point on any run, and makes the lasting impression of the run as one of confidence. Cognitive reframing is a tool that can teach us many tactics and tricks about how to put a positive touch on any situation. As it relates to athletic training, a simple hand-clap is an example you can try, and it might be especially meaningful in the face of tough conditions, such as the bitter cold in the winter weather, or the summer heat/humidity that could otherwise sabotage your feelings of progress. More importantly, what makes the hand-clap work is that when I do it, I believe it to be true.
As I wrote in the final chapter of my book on run training, almost every run I’ve ever done has had a positive element to it, and that’s far from lying to myself. It’s the truth. I don’t have negative experiences when I run. When you finish a run in 90-degree temps with high humidity and every square inch of you is drenched in sweat, you better believe a run like that gets a “WOOHOO!” <CLAP> at the end of it. SUCCESS! Why would I let the pace/speed of the run detract from that feeling!?
Moreover, make sure you are proactively adjusting your workouts to account for the summer weather. Proactively adjusting means “sit down before you fall down”. One of my favorite coaching expressions is: "Foresight is a more powerful tool than hindsight." This approach prevents negative self-talk from entering the picture, and it negates the possibility of having to “turn a frown upside down” post-workout. Some runners don’t adjust by their own volition; rather, they run slower and slower as the workout goes on because their body is slowly shutting down. Then there is much “damage control” that has to be done, which is the exact opposite of confidence.
When there are non-ideal training conditions (including your legs simply being sore from a good ST workout), anyone can fool him/herself at the beginning of a workout, but the cumulative effects don’t take very long to reveal themselves and spike your heart rate too high, too soon (for example). Remember that training in extreme conditions (cold, snow, huge hills, humidity, etc) is about perceived exertion (“relative intensity”), and not “pace”.
For instance, during the summer, the average runner doing a tempo workout on the track might have to adjust the pace by as much as 30-40 seconds per mile! If you’re a data-driven runner, then that workout has the ability to “suck” in your mind because the numbers are your focal point. We don’t want that. We want a superb feeling of accomplishment when we’re done. Perhaps solidified by a hand-clap as you cross the finish line on that final rep, or arriving back at your front doorstep after a long run.
Yes, I know, it feels weird for your legs to move at a pace much slower than you’re used to, but “train smarter, not harder” is one of my mantras. Remind yourself that you hit other process goals that day, and again, you’ll be likely to honestly believe the positivity that you throw at yourself. The sound of your own two hands clapping for yourself will put a powerful stamp on any workout! Believe it!