Tag Archives: running

Power of Negative Thinking

marathon

I have run 16 marathons and now going for my 17th this Sunday. Couple of weeks before the run I am still overconfident and raving about my upcoming new record.  Week before marathon I start to be more quiet. It feels that my condition is horrible. I envision all the possible injuries I will get and the bad weather upon me. Then I usually just run it.

Although people always talk about positive thinking, actually it might be more beneficial to defensive pessimist:

“When people are being defensively pessimistic, they set low expectations, but then they take the next step which is to think through in concrete and vivid ways what exactly might go wrong. What we’ve seen in the research is if they do this in a specific, vivid way, it helps them plan to avoid the disaster. They end up performing better than if they didn’t use the strategy. It helps them direct their anxiety toward productive activity.”

-Julie Norem

Whether it is running the marathon or doing a big presentation, I generally advocate the following pattern:

1. Be generally strategic optimist: Believe in yourself and be confident

When something is still far away, envision the best possible outcome and eagerly plan to make it happen. Make public promises and be overconfident. This usually also inspires me to work more and ensure that I don´t fail.

2. Be defensive pessimist close to your performance: Make the mental image of things going really bad

When the actual event is approaching you start to freak out. That is a good thing because your defensive pessimism starts to kick in. By visualizing all the major things that go wrong you are not affected by the minor things that go wrong.

3. On gameday: Don´t think, just do it

When it is the race day or big presentation, you just let it go. You usually realize that it is not as bad as you envisioned and keep on going. After you jumped from the cliff, it is also too late to climb back.

“I would visualize the best- and the worst-case scenarios. Whether I get disqualified or my goggles fill up with water or I loser my goggle or I come in last, I´m ready for anything.

-Michael Phelps

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If You Want To Win in Life You Have To Go Little Berserk

“To be a consistent winner means preparing not just one day, one month or even one year –but for a lifetime”
– Bill Rodgers

billrodgers

I have been reading many sports books lately (Open, Sports Gene to name a few). The latest one has been “Marathon Man” about Bill Rodgers. He was a runner who helped to broke running to mainstream and is recommended reading for anyone who runs.

The book is also an eye opening account on how recent phenomenon the jogging phenomenon is. The runners were odd freaks and smoking tobacco was normal. Boston Marathon did not even have water during the early days and Bill Rodgers won the Boston marathon running in oversized Nike shoes. He did it still in 2:09:55. Sports has developed quite a lot, but at the end of the day success is about simple things:

1.Training
There is no shortcut for not putting the miles. If you want to succeed in running, you have to run and run a lot.

“Only ran once – Shit F*** Fart!! about 13 miles at OK pace at 9:00 AM. too tired to run”
From Bill Rodgers training log

2.Strategy
Especially marathon is not only about just letting it go. It is about listening your body, knowing your opponents and knowing your terrain. Bill Rodgers trained on Boston Marathon route constantly and knew it inside out. He was well prepared to win it.

3.Intensity
He was also known as a guy who started out too fast and got burned at the end of the run (recognizing myself here). This handicap also made his great runner. His guts The guy who has the killer instinct will have the final edge. You have to push yourself to limit and then go for the win. If racing does not bring out your intensity, you do not have a change:

“I became intense about the marathon. But I am nowhere near that intense in the rest of my life. In fact, I think running is the only way in which I’m competitive. I have a need to run and sometimes I love it. It’s probably because I wasn’t really good at anything else.”
Bill Rodgers

Or like the late great Steve Prefontaine put it:

“A Lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, push himself even more”

4. Philosophy
Sports is a much bigger thing than just competition. It is a way of life. If I do not get my morning training, I do not only feel the physical withdrawal, I also feel the mental effects. Pushing yourself to the limit has a strong spiritual aspect.

“Training need not be an all-or-nothing battle, involving punishing track practice, grueling calisthenics, and wrenching interval sessions every afternoon. It could be a fun and easy cruise through the gorgeous New England countryside. It could be an act of freedom by which I could step outside myself and my racing mind. A long run in nature could even be a way to connect my physical body with the unseen spirit of the universe.”

5. Community
Although running is a solitary act, you need other people to help and spar you on the way.

“And you can’t do it alone. No one can. Look at Alberto Salazar’s team now. With Bill Squires I learned to work with a group, we all became friends and supported each other. How cool is that? “
– Bill Rodgers

These things are not limited to running, but apply to all aspects of life.

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Anatomy of An Insight: ESPN New York Marathon Nipple Protectors

Marathon is insane both mentally and physically. That is the main reason I love it. Although I have already run 13 marathons, I am still scared shitless when I step to the finish line (next time is way too soon).

You also face lots of physical obstacles during the run. Knee pains, blisters, running to the bathroom with acute stomache, sore achilles tendon, having a heatstroke, getting a backache…And this is just a small recap of my trials and tribulations. One of the most annoying ones is shirt friction, which might cause bleeding nipples, if you forget to tape or put Vaseline to your nipples. Actually there is relatively big business built around that prevention.  Sometimes you might still forget your tape, and then you are in trouble. Therefore this ESPN activation from New York Marathon resonated well with me:

ESPN Nipple Protectors
Insight: Nipples bleed when you run marathon. We give you tape to prevent it.

Approach: You differentiate when you are not fighting with every other marketer from top-of-mind. Marathon swag bag is already overtly competed place. ESPN found a place, which was not populated by other marketing messages and provided also something useful at the same time.

This approach reminds me about our most successful festival promotion, when I was heading MySpace in Finland. Instead of trying to compete for attention in the actual festival area, we concentrated all our activities in camping area (where the real party happens in any case). As there were no other marketers or no real entertainment, people did not view our promotion as marketing communications but more of entertainment or service.

Good learning to keep in mind: go where the others are not going. You might win big. (Or the others know something you don´t and understand to keep away from it.) This example proves that you should not stay away from nipples.

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