#048 – Inspire Virtual Runs host, Richard Conner, shares how lessons from running can help you improve your resilience and mental toughness to tackle difficult challenges in your life.
About your Inspire Virtual Runs Host
Richard Conner Richard is a strategic marketing professional with experience in B2B marketing. Richard is the founder of Inspire Virtual Runs and is passionate about helping others reach their goals. He is a Connecticut native and is a husband, dad, writer, Star Wars fan, and of course – runner! Richard recently discovered obstacle course racing and has fully embraced this new obsession.
Welcome to Episode 48. We all go through difficult times at multiple points in our life. And among other things, it really takes perseverance and mental toughness to really work through those challenges and succeed in the end. And what I’d like to talk about today is how running can help you build that mental toughness to not only succeed in sports, but also succeed in your day to day life. Hope you enjoy. Here’s what you can look forward to on this episode of Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast, and really visualize that and keep that in mind, whatever that goal is. Because as you’re moving through it, things are going to get hard, things are going to get difficult. And you’re going to need to keep that in mind so you stay focused, and you know exactly what you’re headed towards.
Welcome to Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast, whether you are new to running or seasoned, get tips and the inspiration that you need to achieve your health and fitness goals. Now, here’s your host, Richard Conner.
Richard Conner 1:17
Hi, everyone, welcome to Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast, I just completed my first Spartan DEKA race of the year. And as I was reflecting on that race, I started to think about what it takes to do that kind of activity. And it really takes perseverance and mental toughness among having the agility and having the strength and the endurance and the technique to do a race like that. And I started to think that wow, you know, a lot of those characteristics that you need to be successful in a race really could apply in your normal day to day life, whether it’s in your personal life, or whether it’s business or work. A lot of this really kind of applies to both. So I just wanted to take this time during this episode to share my own experience, about how I was feeling about Spartan Races and just kind of running in general and talk to you about, you know, how that’s really kind of helped me in my day to day life. So I’ll start with the story about the Spartan DEKA race. This race is the one I did in particular is the Spartan DEKA mile. And I’ve talked about it a little bit on the show, but if you’ve never done a Spartan Race or Spartan Decker race, this one in particular has 10 stations. And each of those stations has a requirement. So there is a rower and there is a ski and you have to do box jumps and burpees all the real fun stuff, right. And they’re really taxing. And then for the deck a mile in particular, you run in between each of those obstacles. So I started this last year during the pandemic as kind of a way to restart my fitness and kind of get back into a lot of these kind of race type activities. But Never did I ever think that I would be doing them long term, I thought I just go back to the traditional Spartan Races or traditional road races. And after I did my first race last year, it was super challenging to the point where I got to the very end of the race, and literally wanted to quit. I didn’t care that all I had to do was 10 More ran burpees. I didn’t care what my time was, I just wanted to lay down on the ground and just quit. But I didn’t. I did a one by one. And I finished those ran burpees and I finished the race. Now granted, my time wasn’t great. It was the first time I go first time I did it. And I wasn’t really at all pleased with the time. But more importantly, I wasn’t pleased with the way my mind was really kind of shutting down. And it was really hard for me to kind of push through and finish it in in a time that I would have thought would have been a reasonable amount of time. So that’s kind of where my story began. And I think that happens kind of in real life where challenges come at us. And maybe our instinct is to just kind of shut down or quit instead of really kind of pushing through and moving through those challenges, step by step and working through it and coming out successful on the on the other end. So, you know, as I was kind of thinking about the race and how I performed and how it affected me, mentally and physically, I really started to think about like, what are the things I need to do You to do better than next time, not only technique wise, not only endurance wise, but mentally, like how do I move through this without succumbing, I would say, to the feeling of, I’m just going to quit. I’m going to stop this right now, right here. And that I really thought about that over a few few months. And I continue to train and I continue to work on my technique, but also continue to think about mentally like through the race, what do I have to do to kind of just kind of keep it moving.
Richard Conner 5:40
So if you’ve been following my journey for some time, this story sounds familiar, because this happened to me a couple of other times in my running career. So I just sat down, and I listed out like, here’s some of the key things that really helped me kind of progress in my running career, and especially more recently in the Spartan Decker races, and I want to share that with you. And then afterwards, I will share with you the results of just this latest race that I did not too long ago. So the first thing and we always talk about this is really knowing and understanding your why. And for me, my Why is being healthy for myself and for my family, but also taking on new challenges and doing things that I never thought that I could do. And this is a big deal for me to be able to overcome, you know, what I think in my mind are barriers. So that’s, that’s my why. And that’s what I think about every time I sign up for one of these races, or even have a thought about doing something that scares me or something I haven’t done before. So that’s number one. And I would really encourage you as cliche as it sounds. And I know you know, we talked about it here on Inspire Virtual Runs Podcast, and many others do. But this truly, truly is a key driver that is going to keep you motivated. If you keep that front and center. That’s going to keep you moving. But if you don’t know why, then it’s going to be easier to quit. Why am I doing this? I’m just going to stop it right here. And right now. So that’s number one. Number two is visualize the goal. Think about, what would it be like, if you succeeded? What would it be like if you got to the end of it, and you achieved what you’re looking to achieve? Whether if it’s a race, whether it’s time, if it’s not a race, if it’s if it’s something else, if it’s a particular challenge, you’re starting to work through, instead of focusing on the negative, think about, well, what positive could come out of this, if you’re able to be successful in overcoming it. And really visualize that. And keep that in mind, whatever that goal is. Because as you’re moving through it, things are going to get hard, things are going to get difficult. And you’re going to need to keep that in mind. So you stay focused, and you know exactly what you’re headed towards. So for me, my goal was to finish the race faster than I did before. So I had a baseline from the previous races that I ran. And I said, Okay, well, based on that baseline, I want to improve. So at a bare minimum, I just would love to see improvement. That’s my goal. And then I like to stretch myself a little bit to say, Okay, well, I’d like to improve by X amount. And if I could do that, then I’m really successful. I’m really feeling good about myself. But more importantly, I’m looking to simply train and improve my time. So that that was my goal for for this particular race.
Richard Conner 9:01
Number three is focus on what is directly in front of you. Now, you can get distracted by what’s down the road, you could think about all the what ifs in the world. And especially if you’re racing. Let’s talk about the Spartan Decker race where there are 10 stations that you have to go through. Well, each one of those stations is going to take a lot of energy, mental energy and physical energy to complete that particular station as fast as possible or the best that you can do it. If you start to divert your thoughts or your mind start starts to wonder, well, I’m going to finish this station but the air bike is next, or the tank or the rower, whatever the case is, you’re not focusing on like, specifically what’s in front of you. So This is not to say don’t think about the future. This is not to say, don’t make a plan for what’s coming, then a few steps ahead. But when you’re really kind of in it, having that focus is going to help you complete that specific task at hand. Because once you start, your mind starts wandering through those other tasks, then you’re not totally focused, and it’s going to take you longer, or you might even get discouraged. Because I can tell you, in the race, if I’m thinking about while whatever’s next is going to be super hard, that’s not only going to affect me, then it’s going to affect me right now. So focus on what is directly in front of you. But of course, you want to have that plan for how you’re going to move through the rest of the project, task activity challenge problem, whatever you’re facing, you want to have that plan. Number four is control what you can control. You can’t control the weather, you can’t control a lot of things, right, all of these external factors. And we tend to think about those things. And they tend to also kind of affect us. But you can’t control it, you can only control what you can control. So as an example, you can control your mindset, you can control what you eat in the morning, and how you prepare for the race, you can control the training that you do leading up to the race, there’s a lot of things that you could do to control the other stuff, it’s just gonna, it’s just gonna come at you, right, and then you’re gonna have to deal with it. If it’s, if it’s not a beautiful sunny day, when you’re going to do the race, then wear the appropriate clothes or have the appropriate gear, to make sure that you are the best prepared for those conditions. And then, number five, the last thing I want to share that that’s really helped me is just having a positive mindset. So personally, I am, I would say optimistic by nature, maybe a little too optimistic. Sometimes I guess, it depends who you ask. But having a positive mindset is really going to help you work through challenges or move through the race. Because if you start again, sort of thinking about negative thoughts, that’s going to weigh you down, that’s going to slow you down, you’re gonna think, Oh, I can’t do this, which is, which are things that I used to think and sometimes I think about it now. But it used replace that with Yes, I can. I’ve done this before, or I’ve trained for this, I know I can do this. I feel good about this. That’s going to help you. And I’m sure you you’ve heard another quote about from Henry Ford, whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right. Your mind is a powerful, powerful thing. And that’s going to determine whether your mindset, right, it’s going to determine whether or not you are successful. And if you think positively, and you think about that end goal, and you think about being successful, you have a far better chance of getting to where you want to be. And as I kind of reflect on this last race. Well, if I compare it to the first race, every single station, I was just thinking, Is it over yet is this race over yet I can’t wait to like get to the end. And I felt really
Richard Conner 13:38
I would say not great during the race at every single station because I just wanted it to be over. And I think that that was a distinct difference between that first race versus the one that I just completed. Because it’s going to be hard no matter what, don’t get me wrong, this last race would felt just as hard as the first one. But what was different was my mindset, I actually felt better moving through each of the stations, because I kept moving for most of it. Of course, I slowed down at certain points. And of course, I was better at certain stations and others. But I felt better because I knew that I could do it I knew that I trained for and I was trying to keep that positive mindset that I can do it. Versus I can’t do this. Why am I doing this? This is really hard. Everything hurts. I want this to be over. You’re gonna have a much, much different experience, having that positive mindset versus a negative mindset. So these are just a handful of things that really helped me through the race. And I’m pleased to say that I had a three minute improvement in the Spartan DEKA mile during this last race, which is tremendous. It was a 10% in almost a 10% improvement over the last time that I’d run this race, and so not only did I PR or improve my my time, which was my goal, I improved it by a significant or meaningful amount, which was great. Now, did I hit my stretch goal of getting it done and sub 30 minutes? No, I didn’t do that. But I’m having a positive attitude about it. I felt like I gave it as much as I could. During the race, I felt really great about how I did each of the stations about my attitude towards the race. And I just feel good about it overall. So you know what, I didn’t hit my stretch target. But I did improve. And I’m very happy for that. And you know what, I had plenty of other opportunities if I chose to do it again, sometime this year, or next year. Right. So just those, these are the types of things that kind of ran through my mind that I was thinking, gosh, you know, these helped me through the race. But these all these things could also help in your day to day life, and I wanted to take this time to share them with you. So if there are tips and tricks that helps you through moving through challenges, whether it’s sports related or personal or business, I would love to hear from you. Please leave comments for this episode. Join us on social media Inspire Virtual Runs on Instagram and Facebook. And just we’d love to hear from you. What are the things that you do as we’re a running community and we want to help and inspire and build up others as they go through go through life. So thank you so much for listening. I really hope you enjoyed this episode. enjoy hearing the story and I hope it helps you in your journey. And with that, I just want to thank you again and have a great day.
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