Strengthening the Mind

Becoming Elli is about women who are working on being fit and strong. On this website and on the podcasts for Becoming Elli, we spend a lot time talking about strengthening the body, but today I wanted to focus on strengthening the mind.

I thought I share some of the tools I use to get mentally stronger.

This year my personal New Year’s resolution was to build resilience and remember consistency over intensity. I feel both of these concepts apply to strengthening the mind.

Athletes know that mental preparation is as important as the physical preparation. It may even be more important. Perhaps you’ve heard fo the concept that “fatigue as an emotion“, identified by the world-famous South African sports and exercise scientist Tim Noakes. I try to tell myself that when I’m tired, but I still have trouble wrapping my brain around that one!

Last month, I was particularly delighted when Olympic Medalist and USA long-distance runner record holder Deena Kastor was the invited to be the elite ambassador for the Akron Marathon. She really focuses on strengthening her mind.

strengthening the mind with Deena Kastor at the Akron Marathon
Deena Kastor offers mental strengthening words of advice to me at the Akron Marathon Expo on the day before I ran the half marathon. “Chris – Dream Large! Deena Kastor”.
“My competitive days had a short window, but I could push my mind and strengthen my positivity for a lifetime.” – one of the many wonderful quotes from Deena Kastor.

Her book, Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory*, is filled with incredible thoughts and is very powerful.

“My competitive days had a short window, but I could push my mind and strengthen my positivity for a lifetime.”

It has many great examples of positive affirming thoughts.

Part of the way I try to strengthen the mind in my training plan is to do yoga. I say “try” because I’m not as consistent as I want to be. I find it interesting that it is easier to push myself to exercise my physical body more than it is to strengthen my mind with exercises that I know will provide more calmness and focus. I’m talking about the breathing exercises, meditation, yoga and being still to just listen.

Here are some of the ways and tools I use to strengthen my mind and improve my resilience:

  • Slow down and collect calm
  • Notice and feel my breathing
  • Develop a focus
  • Count my blessings
  • Celebrate success
  • Slow my heart rate
  • Relax my mind and let my thoughts come and go
  • Focus on what is good
  • Write a mental list for my gratitude journal
  • Remember which ever one I feed – (the story about the two wolves)
  • Recognize the strength of optimism
  • Spend time with nature
  • Do hard things, so I remember that I can overcome obstacles
  • Let go of the D words. Avoid the D-words that have the tendency to pull me DOWN. Words like: discouraged, disable, dysfunction, depressed, disease, and distraction
  • Focus on uplifting words: inspire, encourage, enable, empower, enlighten, invigorate, at ease
  • Re-read the Optimist creed, the Serenity Prayer about courage, acceptance and wisdom and go through the basic action plan of Just For Today.

Do you work on strengthening your mind as well as being strong in your body? How do you do it? What tools do you use? Do you use any of the tools that I do? What am I missing? Leave a comment below or use your phone to record a voice message and email it to me at

(*affiliate link disclaimer: some links are to Amazon where a small portion of your purchase will help to offset costs associated with this website and podcast.)

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