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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

The Case for Optimism

In my opinion, if there's one thing a distance runner needs to have, it's optimism.

Why?

Because there's a lot of resistance in this sport.

It's hard.

It requires discipline.

It can be painful.

It's a time commitment.

And once all that is endured, it still doesn't even guarantee success.

But what I'm coming to understand is that the best of the best don't dwell on that resistance. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Instead of fixating on why they can't, they focus on why they can. And consequently, they stay engaged longer.

"They're not creating narratives in their mind of why it's not going to work," Performance Psychologist Dr. Michael Gervais says of optimistic people, which is why they're able to stick with something, often leading to more success.

Sure, there are scenarios where there are very real threats to moving forward, and thus, pulling the plug is the right move. "But when it's just perception, or it's just information that's not a real threat … and you have the skill to be optimistic, that's big time," Gervais adds.

If we can agree that progress comes from consistent and purposeful inputs, it becomes apparent that there's a certain mental outlook required to drive that. I think it's particularly evident when we acknowledge the aforementioned resistance that will challenge an athlete's very ability to remain consistent and purposeful.

That mental outlook is one of optimism. And with it, an athlete will be able to push through.

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