Vidakovich Column: What are you thinking?
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
I finished a book a few days ago called “Let Your Mind Run. A Memoir of Thinking My Way to Victory.” The author is Deena Kastor, who is one of the most decorated female distance runners in the history of the sport.
Kastor, formerly Deena Drossin, chronicles her introduction and early years in the sport of running, as well as her many triumphs in high school, earning All-American honors and a scholarship to run track and cross country at the University of Arkansas.
After achieving modest success while running at Arkansas, Kastor encounters and endures injuries that often plague many endurance athletes. While rehabilitating her foot problems and unable to run at all, Kastor becomes isolated from her teammates and by choice, begins to isolate herself from the rest of life in general.
Seeking new surroundings and new training methods, Kastor follows the advice of a friend and gets in touch with legendary Adams State Track Coach Joe Vigil. It turns out that Vigil is as well known for his ability to train and shape the mind of his runners as he is for preparing their bodies to face national and world-class competition.
Following a long phone visit with Vigil and being doused with several of his positive thinking approaches, Kastor, with the goal of someday making the United States Olympic Team, pulls up stakes and moves to Alamosa to train under the watching eye of the man known as “Coach Joe.”
You can now probably guess what transpires for Kastor under the direction of Vigil. She goes on to win several national cross country titles, as well as winning a bronze medal for her country in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Even with the running success that was achieved during her time at Adams State, Kastor credits Vigil for changing her entire life around by instilling in her the ability to look first for the beauty and the possibilities of each day, rather than holding firmly and stubbornly to her past mindset of wondering what could go wrong in her life next.
Following completion of the book, I tried to take a look at how I react the many happenings, and the people who I cross paths with each day. I quickly realized that maybe I too, should dial Coach Vigil’s number.
Starting my day with a run has always been the best tonic for raising my spirits and calming my nerves for the hours that lie ahead. In honesty, I cannot tell you that I lead a high-stress life, because I don’t. But the calmness that surrounds me after a run only goes so far and lasts so long. There has to be other strategies in place for all of us to go out and make the day a good one for ourselves and those we come into contact with.
Excuse my language here, but I try my best not to spend the waking hours pissing and moaning about a person or a situation I have to deal with. But it’s like the lyrics go in the old Joe Walsh song, “I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.”
One thing I shared with a friend the other day that he readily agreed with is that I couldn’t, upon much introspection, remember one single time in my life where losing my temper, yelling, or saying something hurtful or personal to another person, made either of our lives, or the tense situation, any better. And yes, we both agreed that flipping out, so to speak, just made things understandably worse.
So, along with staying away from watching or listening to the daily news, I’m trying to follow more of the teachings that Vigil bestowed on Kastor in helping to change her mindset.
I’ll never be able to run like an Olympian, but at least I can try to think like one.
So can you.