Not listening to the voice in your head that tells you to quit, learning life lessons from sport, and bodyweight rows

Happy Monday,

Have you ever wanted to quit in the middle of a challenging workout?

Of course you have. We all have.

When I’m running sprints, pushing for another rep, or gearing up for another round of sparring, it amazes me how often I’ll catch the voice in my head telling me to give up.

“You can’t do this,” it tells me. Sometimes, it tries a more passive approach, assuring me, “you’ve already done enough; you can take it easy now.”

I’ll be the first to admit that there have been many times I’ve listened to that voice. Sometimes, I do give up. But the more I become aware of my inner voice, the less I let it control me.

Psychologist and neuroscientist Ethan Kross writes in his book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters, and How to Harness It, that while our inner voice functions well much of the time, it can also lead to what he terms chatter — “the cyclical negative thoughts and emotions that turn our singular capacity for introspection into a curse rather than a blessing.”

The more we become aware of our inner chatter, the more we can choose to ignore it — or replace it with more helpful, positive self-talk.

Some practical ways of doing this are:

  • Talking to ourselves: e.g., “Krista, you’ve got this! Don’t stop now!”
  • Imagine advising a friend. Would you let a friend give up so easily? Now apply that same advice to yourself.
  • Engage in what Kross calls “mental time travel.” Think about how you’ll feel a day, month, or even a year from now. The physical discomfort you’re experiencing now will be much less upsetting at a later time.
  • Remind yourself that you’ve done hard things before; you can do them now.

When the voice in your head tells you to quit, you can choose not to listen.

What I’m reading —

Zen in Martial Arts by Joe Hyams

Joe Hyams began learning martial arts from Bruce Lee in his mid forties. In this short but inspirational book, he writes about how he gained so much more than just physical ability. Martial arts, he says, can be a spiritual and philosophical basis for everything; a way of life.

What I’m listening to —

Katie Hoff: Alchemizing Pain into Gratitude / Rich Roll podcast

I find it fascinating to hear from athletes after they retire. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to work your entire life for a goal, then to question your entire identity when that goal is no longer the sole purpose of your existence. Olympic swimmer Katie Hoff talks about how she dealt with this identity crisis, how she found new purpose in life by helping others find their inner strength, and more in this interview with Rich Roll.

A quote that inspires me —

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl

What I’m training this week —

In an effort to rebuild back strength after an elbow injury last year, I’ve been incorporating a lot of bodyweight rows (also known as Australian pull-ups or reverse push-ups). Give them a try if you haven’t already. You’ll need a horizontal bar about knee-height or a dip bar to do them.

Three new workouts from last week —

Park-Friendly Jump Rope HIIT Workout (12 minute, jump rope)

Power + Speed Medicine Ball Challenge Workout (Time challenge, medicine ball)

100 Burpee Challenge (Time challenge, equipment-free)

And here’s a plyo box workout I posted on Instagram.

Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).

As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!

Here’s to choosing not to quit,

– Krista Stryker


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