A few weeks ago, I went to the track for a workout. It was not just a simple workout, but the feared and hated ladder workout. I dreaded it the moment I read it. I planned on doing the workout Tuesday, because I knew if I bailed on it, I could get it in on Wednesday. I had a devil of a time finding a track with no planned activities, but I finally did and invited two friends, who were doing other workouts, just to keep me company.

When I got to the track, it was filled with activity: kids, coaches, runners stretching in lane one and plenty of walkers. And then there was that terrible wind. Filled with dread, I began my warm up. I told one of my friends, “I’m not feeling this. I can always bag it and do it tomorrow.” Still, I completed my warm up and began my first repeat. It was “off” but not terribly, so I forged ahead. Second repeat was no faster. My workout quickly tanked. I didn’t quit, but I barely hit the slow ends of my times, if at all. I didn’t care. I finished the shortest warm down ever, glowering at walkers, almost trampling little kids. Intimidating. Fearsome. Bitch.

That night and the next day, I reflected on my workout. I thought about my attitude. I’d blown it. I’d consciously wasted the entire workout, suffering all the way and making everyone else around me suffer. Instead of seeking support and positivity, I’d invited fear, dread and negativity. I continued to reflect.

The Approach to Change
I was determined to change. I figured that I was not training for where I was, but for where I would be, for the person and athlete I could be. That shift helped, and I sought more change. I meditated. I slept. A lot.

A few days later, I felt a shift, a lightness to my running and a lifting of my foul mood. My body was more or less the same, but I felt alive and aware. It got me wondering if the small mental changes were actually having some effect. I continued with mental “tricks” and the distancing from self-pity and doubt. Meditation in the morning to clear the mind, and meditation at night to promote relaxation and sleep. I noticed more changes in my mood—waking was easier, my morning runs brighter, even renewed enthusiasm at work.

Hmmm. Perhaps none of my perceived “lack of fitness” was physical? Perhaps it was all mental? I continued to play and experiment with adding the repetition of mantras during runs, especially during difficult ones. I started repeating “So Ham/Hum” (Sanskrit for “I am that”) and “Sat Nam” (“My True Self”), finding they fell nicely with my footsteps, keeping my focus laser-sharp and melting away my doubts.

The Outcome
The outcome of the changed mind is relaxation and the capability to attain anything, through the cultivation of a positive, relaxed state of mind. So simple and yet so hard. When I invoke negativity, control and fearsomeness, I drive people away and spiral downward into my hole. When I let my guard down, joke and have fun with the process, I invite generosity, relaxation and naturally succeed at achieving my goals.

It is not an easy path. Changing the mind is a practice as much as athletic physical practice. But in the transformation from fearsome to fearless, I am happier and successful in the pursuit of my goals, all the while remaining gracious, positive and relaxed.

Author: Julie Bergfeld is the owner of Metro Power Yoga, www.metropoweryoga.com.