If you’re a veteran, you know that everything we did was about being a team player and working together. You weren’t competing against your fellow service members or working toward individual goals; instead, you were all on the same team with the same end-game. While serving, I never imagined how much my experience would help me as a civilian in the future. When I left and began working at a local gym as a personal trainer, I had to change my entire view of how to work out effectively and efficiently.

The rules and regulations in place at that facility were very different from what we experienced in boot camp. At first, it was hard to get used to this new environment. However, after some time, I learned how powerful it is to have both a team mentality as well as individual goals for improvement at the same time.

These principles have helped me tremendously since transitioning back into civilian life – especially with my love of running!

Here are three ways using my military mindset has helped me prepare for a race:

Plan for the Worst, but Always Train for the Best

Basic Military Training
(Source: DVIDS/picryl)

One thing I really loved about being in the military was the sense of preparedness that came with the job. No matter what you were doing, you always trained for the worst-case scenario.

The same is true when you are training for a race. Although you want to be optimistic and train for the best possible outcome, you also want to plan for the unexpected that could derail your race day. This might include weather delays, traffic jams, or any other unforeseen event that could affect your race. Because I am running in a race for the first time in years, I am conscientious about planning for the unexpected. For example, I’ve changed my regular running route to avoid traffic and to ensure I am prepared for any weather conditions.

Train Your Body First and Foremost

For many people, running is about the finish line and crossing the finish line first. For me, it’s been more about the journey and learning how to better my body along the way. I know that everyone is different, but in my experience, it’s been more effective to train your body first and foremost, then work toward that end goal.

The best way I’ve found to train your body first and foremost is to focus on your posture and movement. Running is a sport that requires tremendous amounts of posture and movement, so it’s the first place I would focus. It’s common for individuals to have poor posture and movement patterns while moving. Poor posture and movement patterns can lead to numerous injuries and can significantly impact your ability to run longer distances increasingly.

It’s important to focus on improving your posture and movement patterns before focusing on increasing your mileage or other end goals.

Always Be Making Strides Toward Your Goal Physically and Mentally

Intense Physical
(Source: NARA)

While training for my first race, I’ve tried to focus on making strides toward my goal physically and mentally. Physically, I’ve focused on improving my posture and movement patterns first, then building up to longer distances.

Mentally, I’ve focused on positive self-talk. It’s important to remain positive and make strides toward your goal throughout your entire training program. This is especially important during times when you are feeling fatigued, unmotivated, or off the pace. It can be easy to get trapped in a negative cycle during those times, but it’s important to mentally make strides toward your goal and break the cycle as soon as possible. This can be done by focusing on your progress and accomplishments and adopting a positive self-talk mentality.

Bottom line

Throughout my life, I’ve always used a military mindset to help me succeed and thrive. However, when I transitioned into civilian life, I was surprised at how helpful my experience in the military was. This was especially true with my love of running! If you have an upcoming race, use these three principles to help you succeed.


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