Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


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Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


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Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


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Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Whose Run Is It?

  ·  4 min

Whose Run Is It?

There’s a time to compete and there’s a time not to. Most of the time, it’s the time not to, yet people are constantly competing against others and themselves.While there is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, many people fall into the trap of competing against themselves and using negativity, labels and name calling, and personal put-downs.Striving to improve from a place of self-acceptance and comfort with who you are is one thing. Criticizing yourself because you aren’t the fastest, don’t have the enough medals or aren’t on the cover of the magazines, that’s another.Leon Festinger carefully looked into this style of thinking in 1954 and called it, “social comparison theory.” Simply, this means that people have an innate propensity to evaluate their skills and performances and often compare themselves to others when there is not objective feedback available. But this comparison is a distraction at best. At worst, it leaves us feeling like we are failures, convinces us that we are fixed in our abilities and predicts futures of poor performance. Thus, instead of understanding that the run you are on is yours, not anyone else’s, you are constantly trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s not healthy.It’s been said that at 20, we worry about what others think of us and at 40, we don’t care what others think of us. As someone who has passed 60, my friends and I now realize that nobody was thinking about us to begin with. They were running their own run while we were busy trying to run theirs.My father, uncle and grandfather had shoe stores when I was growing up. I worked in them from the time I was seven years old. One day, my grandfather brought me outside to teach me an important lesson. He pointed at the competitor down the street. The owner was standing in front of his store watching the people come into our family’s store and walking out with bags of shoes.“Michael,” my grandfather told me, “You see what that guy is doing? He’s watching our store instead of his own. He’s angry that nobody is buying shoes from him. He’s too busy taking care of OUR business instead of his own. When you grow up, run your own store, and don’t watch anyone else’s.”Sure there is a time to compete. Running in a race? You are competing to win. But those times are rare in life. Stay away from constantly competing, delete those who push you to be something you aren’t and run your own run, live in your own home, drive your own car, wear your own running shoes, and run your own store—don’t watch anyone else’s. You’ll fail for sure.Here’s how I coach athletes, business leaders and everyday folks who suffer from their own compare and despair thinking:Who are you? What’s unique about you that makes you different than anyone else? What’s that voice inside telling you who you are? Be sure you are fully aware, self-accepting, and completely content with the answer to that question. Focus on being the best YOU, not a second rate someone else.What’s it take for you to unfold, reveal and unpack the genuine, authentic you? Run your run the way you want to. I saw someone in the gym recently copying every move I made with a set of dumbbells, including the amount I was lifting. He was trying to lift my dumbbells, not his. Not smart, right? He needed to lift his own dumbbells, the way his body and muscles and strength permitted, not the way mine did for him.Don’t DIE. Huh? That means, don’t Demand, Insist and Expect that YOUR performance be better or even match the person with whom you are running.Hear the fixed beliefs you have about yourself, understand you have a choice as to how you think about yourself in relationship to others when you put on your running shoes, challenge and then replace those thoughts that leave you thinking negative about yourself and your performances.Enjoy your run. Your own run.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

  ·  3 min

3 Reasons to Ditch Static Stretching Before Exercise

If you’ve ever been part of a race of any kind – running, cycling, swimming, even weightlifting – then you’ve seen it happen. There are people who use static stretching (holding a certain position at the edge of your range of motion for a specific period of time) as a means of “loosening up” before their activity. You probably haven’t ever really paid much attention to it. But, next time you’re at a race, or the gym for that matter, take a look around and you’ll see what I mean.Why am I bringing this up? Good question. The answer is simple: The worst possible time to stretch in a static manner is BEFORE you exercise. The general rule of thumb that I follow with my clients and in my own workouts is a dynamic warmup, (very basic movements that mimic what will be performed during the actual workout) followed by some static stretches after. There are a few specific reasons why I follow this strategy and I want to share them with you…YOUR MUSCLES AREN’T LOOSE YET. Your muscles are cold. They’ve been sitting behind a desk or in a car all day, and they’re just not ready for exercise. Stretching them before they loosen up would be like pulling on a banjo or guitar string. You’re just not going to get very far. Not to mention, pulling on a cold muscle is a surefire way to (quite literally) pull or even tear a muscle. NO STATIC STRETCHING BEFORE EXERCISE!!! DYNAMIC WARMUP PREPARES YOUR BODY FOR EXERCISE. I like to use the term “bridging the gap” when talking about dynamic warmup. Most people can’t just take off on a dead sprint, or tie their shoes and go for a 10 mile run. They need to loosen up first. The best way to do this is to go through a series of movements that are going to imitate your actual workout. This will do a couple of things. First and foremost, it will get your heart rate elevated. You will actually be able to feel your breathing increase and your heart begin to pump a little bit. This will in turn elevate your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles that are being used. For a running workout, you would obviously want to mimic the motion of running, but also mix in some low intensity exercises that will elevate your heart rate without too much effort. For example: Stationary High KneesStationary Butt KicksBodyweight SquatsJumping JacksAlternating Toe TouchesDo each exercise for 20-30 seconds, repeat two times throughRate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). Rate of perceived exertion is a fancy term that describes how hard you think you’re working. This is used commonly in fitness testing as a measurement of how hard to push individuals. A recent Australian study (you can read in its entirety here) showed that while static stretching before a race doesn’t necessarily affect your finishing time, it can directly impair your neuromuscular functioning and increase RPE. What this means is that even though you may still be able to finish around the same time, it’s going to take you longer to get going, and it will seem a lot more difficult doing so. Running can sometimes be tough enough on its own. Why do something that is just going to perpetuate that?Let’s be honest, nobody likes “getting warmed up” before a run or workout. Personally, it’s my least favorite part. Your body is cold and stiff, and loosening it up can be a hassle. So why not, at least, make your warmup more effective? You may not ever enjoy it, but you can at least get the most out of it. So forget the traditional stretches and get moving. It’s far and away the better method for preparing your body for exercise. When you’re all done is when you can relax and hold those “oh-so-comfortable” static stretches.Post contributed by Brock Jones.  Brock is Co-Owner and Head Trainer with BodyFIT, Inc. in Lexington, KY. He holds a Masters of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kentucky and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.  You can read more of Brock’s posts about fitness and exercise on the BodyFIT Punch Blog.


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

  ·  2 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: How to Run in Heat and Humidity

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! Hello! I live in Costa Rica. We do not have Summer, Winter or Fall we just have rainy season or summer season. Right now is rainy season here and it is sunny and moist during the morning and rainy (a lot) during the afternoon. I usually go out for training at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm and temperature is perfect at that time (not hot neither too cold). I’ll have a race soon and it’ll start at 8:00 am. I bet it will be sunny and terribly humid. What can I do to prepare my self to those conditions? – RunRocker S.Running in Costa Rica with its challenging mountains, forests and beaches, can be a terrific experience. Then again, heat, humidity and rain, can be a bothersome factor for some. Some runners handle these weather conditions better than others, of course. And the fact is, we can’t always run in 50 degree, light wind, overcast weather.Keep this in mind. When you run in any conditions, your body temperature increases as a natural accommodation, which cause your sweat glands to produce, well, sweat. In most conditions, the sweat on your skin vaporizes and disappears. In humid weather, your sweat glands will produce sweat but the sweat won’t evaporate. This may lead to dehydration, impaired blood flow, escalating heart rate by about 12-15 beats per minute or more as the temp goes from the 70’s to the 90’s, and cognitive difficulties including dizziness and disorientation. Be aware of these indicators of humidity exhaustion, and of course take a rest, hydrate and recuperate. I suggest you don’t only drink water, but include water-rich fruits and veggies as well.What you wear can also help. Be sure the clothing you wear is made of micro-fiber, high-tech, sweat-wicking material. Light colors will reflect heat better than dark colors. Don’t forget your neck and head, so a visor is important.In preparing for for a humid run, don’t focus so much on your regular pacing at first, and instead learn to identify the early signs of humidity exhaustion. Given enough time for preparation, watching your hydration, you’ll have time to focus on the pacing and emerge victorious.Good luck in your race!Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

  ·  4 min

Ask The Fitness Psych: The Elusive Runner’s High

In the RockMyRun ‘Ask The Fitness Psych’ blog series, we have fitness, sports and health behavior science coach Dr. Michael Mantell answer questions from RunRockers! I run because I like feeling healthy, because it’s good for me, and because I like the feeling of accomplishment. But I so often hear about people who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails or track. Do they simply get a bigger rush of endorphins than I do? Or are they more addicted or responsive to the endorphins than I am? I feel like I’m missing something. Running is hard work….I can’t say that I “love” it or crave doing it. I’d take the couch any day and it takes willpower to run multiple times a week. I am proud of my willpower despite the fact that I don’t love any of the exercise I do. – RunRocker ConnieWhat a great series of questions, Connie! Thanks for asking…First, let’s talk about the good old “runner’s high” that results from endorphins produced during a run. These neurotransmitters are released by the pituitary gland, and “feel good” motivational little devils that they are they actually find a way of attaching to two areas of the brain that leave that goofy smile on our faces – the prefrontal cortex and the limbic area. Guess what, Connie? Those friends who “love” running and can’t wait to hit the trails? It’s because those endorphins are finding their way to the very same areas of the brain (the limbic and prefrontal cortex areas) that are stimulated when we are involved in romance or are listening to great music! So YES, your friends do “love the love” they feel from running. The interesting thing about these love chemicals is that their effects increase with routine. Get into a running routine and you’ll be rewarded with lots of “love” like your friends, and even more, with optimal health.I agree about the “hard work” you find in running, and thus not craving it. However, if want to fall in love with that love feeling, try following these steps:Stop focusing on what’s wrong with running—how hard it’s been, how boring it’s been, how you haven’t loved it. Get the focus off the past.Forget goal setting…that’s right! I said it. Instead of goals, focus on intentionality, the planned actions you need to find a way to run, not the intended outcomes of running. Goals are about the future and may or may not happen. Intentions are about the present and what you actually do. Implementation intentions trump simple goals.Start as slow and as brief as you’d like. A quick five-minute jog or a quicker paced around-the-block run to get you going, will be like a first date. Check it out and see if you’ll accept a second date. Make sure it’s a fun first date—think of a cool way to enjoy the experience, no matter how brief it is.Consider a run buddy, as running friends are always helpful for keeping you going. Especially if it’s someone who is a bit—just a bit—more into the love than you are. Don’t try to keep up with an experienced full-fledged run lover.Let yourself fall in love. Don’t fight it. Love the process of your run. Feel those endorphins? Track them, journal them and be mindfully aware of that feeling you get. Want to turbocharge it all? Be sure your choice of music (or mix on RockMyRun!) is the right music and that it gets your heart beating and puts you in the mood for love. Then let your endorphins do their work.These five steps cover all of the key behavior science behind loving to run, or any exercise, and creating that internal motivation you see in your friends. There is no magic in running a course, or lifting a dumbbell, or swinging a kettlebell or hanging on a TRX. These are simply activities. “The link is what you think” and these five steps will help turn your mindset around, and get you no longer feeling like you are missing something, but rather, feeling the love you see in your friends faces.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

  ·  5 min

4 Mental Barriers and How to Avoid Them On Race Day

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” 
Thomas Jefferson offered this observation and it’s as relevant to mental preparation for a race as it is to any endeavor in life. The key is planning.No matter how well you plan, prepare for a race or physically train, without being entirely convinced that you are as ready as you can possibly be for whatever comes up on race day, your motivation, confidence, focus and physical abilities to handle the psychological demands of the race will let you down. Properly engaged mental focus will give you the added fuel of positive emotion, which is the fuel to get out there and compete…and complete.Here are the top 4 mental barriers that I’ve found derail performance on competition day—even if that competition is simply against the track you are running on:1. Motivation is only external What’s the real reason you are running? Is it to satisfy yourself, to elevate your status, to increase your fame or wealth? Are you running because you love the sport and its challenges? Are your parents, spouse, friends, co-workers pushing in helpful or destructive ways? Have you set smart goals for yourself or are you borrowing someone else’s? If all your motivation comes from external (rather than internal) sources, you won’t develop and adhere to your physical and mental preparation plans.2. Talking yourself into anxiety Are you convincing yourself that you “can’t win…finish…do well”? Perhaps you need more positive self-talk. In addition to realizing your actual progress during training and healthy support from others, you must avoid “all or nothing” self-talk and thinking, as well as avoid confusing your past performances with expectations for future performances. Anxiety is simply predicting the future with gloom and doom, so focus on relaxation, deep breathing, music, and avoid dire predictions of “horrible” results—you really can’t predict the future anyway. Common phrases in your self-talk along the way are often very motivating: “Good job…it’s not that much further…almost on the downhill side…not long before the stadium filled with my friends pops up.”3. Intrusions Ever try to NOT think about the “Pink Elephant”? The reason you can’t is because first you have to think about it in order to NOT think about it. Distractions come almost entirely from irrational, ungrounded worry. You compare yourself to your competitors, focus on irrelevant details concerning you, anticipate conditions that may not be present on race day, and erroneously believe that if you think about them then you can control them. Here’s where visualization, mental imagery and posted reminders in your gym bag, can all help. Mentally go through an entire race from waking up on race day and see what you will eat, how you warm up, all the way to the finish line. Go through the event in a positive way and rehearse every step: swim, T1, bike, T2, run and finish. Break the big picture into little pieces to keep focused on your goals, instead of irrelevant distractions.4. Deficient trainingThe wrong coach, an undisciplined or unstructured training program, preparing for the wrong conditions and improper nutritive planning, all lead to being poorly prepared. A lack of mental preparation includes not detailing out and planning your desired goals. What mindset do you visualize for yourself throughout the race? In an Ironman for example, it’s common for the human mind to give in to despair somewhere between 60-90 miles of the biking portion of the race. Preparing in advance for how you will re-think and deal with it (these thoughts normally pass at about 100 miles, so hang in!), will turn this seeming crisis into an expected challenge you are prepared to handle. Detailed goal setting, positive and rational self-talk, mental imagery, familiarity with the course, relaxation methods, concentration, focus skills to avoid distractions, are all are a part of complete mental preparation.What’s The Fix? OMPThese three letters are Optimal Mental Performance. The optimal mindset is central to your success performance. It builds self-confidence, helps you control your mental energy throughout the race course, provides focus on the essential elements of your competition, and creates a sense of familiarity as you move through, in reality, what you’ve rehearsed so many times, in imagery.Begin with the end in mind as you prepare yourself for a big event. How will you need to think and feel to do your best? That’s the key—striving to do your best. What is the right “mindset” to achieve this goal? How do you see yourself feeling and thinking at the start line? What are you focusing on that jettisons you towards doing your best? You might want to compare your previous best and worst performances to see how the answers to these questions change. What does your optimal mindset look, sound and feel like? What cue words do you hear in your optimal mental self-talk? What do you need to do to be mentally and physically ready along the race from warm-up to finish? As you rehearse, listen to yourself positively comment on your progress as you pass landmarks you’ve “seen” in your mental imagery. These strategy rehearsal tips will help you with energy management, and the mental and physical challenges during the race and in post-race recovery.Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has served as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and as the Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for the American Council on Exercise. He is a behavioral sciences coach and consultant, an Advisor to many fitness and health organizations, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Council on Active Aging, the Chief Consultant for Behavior Sciences for the Premier Fitness Camp at Omni La Costa, a presenter for Rancho La Puerta, a best-selling author and an international fitness-health speaker. In 2013, Greatist.com named Dr. Mantell as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”


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