How Self-Talk Can Improve Your Running and Your Life

Jenna Gleeson Counselling

What is self-talk?

Self-talk is what we say to ourselves in response to any particular situation that mainly determines our mood and feelings.

What does it have to do with running or my life?

Imagine two runners on their Tuesday night run in a Vancouver rain storm. One runner perceives herself as rushed, wet and miserable, and says things to herself like, “I can’t do this” or “this hill is too big tonight.” What she feels is frustration, anger and maybe even failure. The other runner perceives the situation as an opportunity to do something for herself or a chance to wash away the stress of her day. She says statements to herself like, “you got this”, “you feel strong on this hill” or “nothing is going to hold me down.”  She feels motivated and a sense of accomplishment. In both cases, the situation is exactly the same, but the…

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In order for Change to occur Consistency needs to be present…simple right?


There are so many inspirational quotes at present referring to personal growth, desiring a change and habit forming. The majority states that the key to perform this “change” is through consistency. On the face of it that is simple right? Just keep doing what you need to do and the change your’re seeking will materialise. No one actually states how difficult it is to be consistent when it is against your natural being.

So for example how easy is it to be consistent to go to the gym to bring the change of desired body. How many excuses do you tell yourself or lack that motivation? Have a few good weeks then just stop? Want the desired body but actually do not like exercising.

How easy is it to be consistent to enforce that consequence with your child when they appear to have “learned their lesson” or appears to be remorseful?

How easy is to stick to that routine when in fact all you want to do is relax?


How easy is it to be consistent when you are a laid back person? Being consistent takes up a lot of energy that is not spoken within all inspirational quotes. I have not deciphered at this present moment in time whether this is positive energy or negative energy however in my opinion it is exhausting nonetheless.

Kenneth Blanchard appears to provide some depth to the concept of consistency implying that the true route to change is commitment to the desire. In my opinion in order to be committed the concept of energy and time proposed to give to desires change still needs to be analysed.

Therefore if you want to make that change the first question that should be asked is how much do I actually want this? Is this an actual goal or is this what society tells me I should do? How much energy am I able to put into this change? Maybe designated time should be given to changing one behaviour at a time rather than trying to change the world (inner self) all at once. Even God (if Christian and believe) rested on day 7.

Managing constructive criticism

It dawned on me how difficult it can be to hear “constructive criticism”, whether it is in the work place, from a friend or a partner. How well do you respond to someone saying “well that’s not right” or “you could do it this way” or simply “start over “? even if it is embellished in the ABA sandwich approach (positive, criticism, positive).

This got me reflecting how much our defences gets in the way of actually hearing what the other person is trying to say to us. At first I thought it was the cliché of “it’s not what is said but how it is said” however I am beginning to realise this may not be true. How often do we consider ourselves to be open-minded, willing to improve, and often seek advice, yet the first person who states “well actually…” we become hot and immediately begin to defend our stand point. So often we are told be confident in our decision-making, and to stay strong in our conviction however the true challenge is to process what the individual is saying whilst not loosing your inner self. WHAT A CHALLENGE THAT IS!

We are asking our minds to conduct two processes at once. There is a danger when we are so strong with our convictions we lose the notion of personal growth and insight, however we listen to constructive criticisms and take them as gospel truths we also lose our inner self, autonomy and core beliefs in that particular situation.

So the question is does defences have a place in listening to constructive criticism? This is my personal opinion but I would say YES. The trick is to TAKE TIME. This is something that some individuals of today often find difficult to possess. How often do we react without thinking based on our defences? How often do we stop to analyse the feeling of what/why our feelings are as such? How often are we able to say “let me think about that” and then give us sometime to reflect. So I say next time you feel that hot sensation, or that feeling of not feeling good enough when being criticised try stopping, thinking, analysing before reacting and see what the outcome may be.

My Valentine

It has come to my attention how important celebrating Valentine’s day can be for people.

As a child, the day meant it was a chance to let the object of your desire know your true feelings. As an adult it’s a day to highlight to your loved one how much you appreciate them.

So what happens if you are not in a relationship…thoughts can run through the mind of not feeling loved, nor lovable. This day can have undesirable affects on the psyche…

Who says that the “outsiders” have to show us that we are loved. We are already in the most important relationship…ourselves. Instead of waiting to be wined and dined by others, or sent chocolates and flowers from the “other”. Appreciate yourself first. Love you first, and have a day with you first.

Validation in one way or another

Reassurance, Acceptance, A pat on the back, Positive re-enforcement –

These are things that are taught in parenting classes to ensure the child is raised in a well-rounded environment and to promote the emotional stability of the child. Children seek praises to enhance their self-esteem. Parents are taught not to always focus on the negative attributes/behaviours but also to focus on the positive behaviours.  When a positive behaviour is enacted the parent is encouraged to reward the behaviour in order for the behaviour to continue. This is a well-known behavioural theory described as operant  conditioning.

As time develops we are therefore conditioned to seek out these rewards for positive behaviours. From parent-child relationship, to teacher-child relationship, to adult – boss relationship. By seeking positive re-enforcement it can be inferred there is a process of validation within our psyche. By hearing “well done” “good job” for doing something well makes us feel warm inside. It lets us know we are on the right path.

Some may say there is nothing wrong with this. The ability to modify/manipulate behaviour can be of benefit. If praises, reassurance and positive re-enforcement helps raise self-esteem that is a good thing. For the record I do not disagree with this, however with reflection the CONSTANT NEED for reassurance, praise and positive re-enforcement from external sources can be very damaging to a person’s self-worth.

At which point as adults do we learn that we can validate ourselves? Define our own self-worth without the need of others? Have you realised the different types of relationships mentioned previously are all those where one is in perceived position of authority. Authority can be associated with power. When do we as individuals begin to take that “power” back.

This leads to the notion of self-love. The ability to have the confidence within ones self to know that we are good enough. The ability to assess the situation on our own merits and not someone else’s. The next question is how do we validate and gain the confidence? Positive affirmations with convictions can be a start. The same way positive praise from external environment can be soothing. Internal praise can work just as well.


The concept of believing in own capabilities can be a foreign phenomenon, however with time it can and does develop.

The art of communication

What does it it mean to express oneself? What does it mean to find ones voice? What does it mean to be understood or actually heard? Ever walked away from a conversation and thought afterwards thats not what I wanted to say? 

There are so many different reasons as to why communicating what we really want to others can be so difficult; confidence, fear, trust to name a few. But I urge you to think what will happen if we actually gain the courage to stop and think what will happen if we do say what we actually mean, would we finally gain contentment within ourselves? 

If we do not say what we mean are we cutting ourselves short of what we deserve? Often we are so absorbed with how others will perceive us we sometimes forget how we perceive ourselves. How do we communicate with ourselves? How often are we honest with ourselves? Sometimes we get caught up with what we tell others in order to survive in a politically correct world – whether it be in the work place or amongst peers – we sometimes forget to think and acknowledge our beliefs, desires and feelings.  

First step of being able to communicate with others would be to start communicating with ourselves. Taking time to reflect on a situation. Taking time to acknowledge own feelings. If we start within then it can be penetrated outwards.