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  • Writer's pictureBetsy

Throw out your garbage thoughts!

Lane 8 vs. Lane 1 beliefs

Did you know that a regulation running track oval has 8 lanes? And that if you try to race, let’s say 4 laps (approximately a mile) in lane 8 against someone in lane 1, you will find yourself at a MAJOR disadvantage?

Quick Jeopardy facts about a track (love stuff that can help me be better at game shows!)

*They are made with straightaways and turns and are basically a circle bisected with two straightaways attached.

*Remember that the circumference of a circle is calculated by using the equation 2 πr, where r is the radius of the circle and pi (π) is 3.14. So, to calculate the circumference of the oval, add the 2 straightaways connecting the halves and you get: 2πr + 2s with s being the straightaway length.

*According to IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation), the straightaways needs to 84.39 meters long.

*The radius of the inside lane of Lane 1 is 36.5 meters. Multiple the length times the radius and you get 398.12 meters around a track.

*Tracks are labeled 400 meters, because that accounts for the width of a runner’s body.

Therefore, the people who are in charge of math and numbers determine that we all run 0.3 meters from “the rail” (the inside line on lane one) and therefore use 2π(36.8) + 2(84.39) = 400 meters.

(Double check my math, but remember those order of operations, people!)

BUT! If you are in lane 4, your running radius is larger and you end up running 23 meters longer than lane 1 and if you are in lane 8, you run almost 54 meters longer!

I present you with this geometry lesson because running or working out with negative thoughts is kind of like running in lane 8 – just more unnecessary work. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person has between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day and about 80% of them are negative and an astounding 95% of those thoughts are on repeat! In other words, we all have a lot of garbage thoughts and we keep thinking them out of habit.

Life is tough enough already. Run in lane 1.

How do we improve our thoughts? It’s not as simple as “thinking positively” all the time. This will actually backfire. Simply focusing on overly positive/upbeat thoughts will only actually create tension as you can think thoughts AND NOT ACTUALLY BELIEVE THEM!

Here’s an example:

I tell you to think about aliens going shopping at Publix (Florida grocery store) for a vegetarian barbecue. You just need a little imagination and BOOM! you can have this thought. However, that certainly doesn’t mean you believe this to be true. Unless you believe in alien life forms, which is a totally different discussion, one that I am totally here for.

However, back to the original point of this post: see how our thoughts can be lies? AND that we are ultimately in control of what we think??

So here’s the trick to improving your thoughts:

*Plan them out.

*Take baby steps.

*Practice until you believe that new thought.

*Practice a new better thought.

That’s it.

To get going: you need a starting line garbage thought and a finish line goal winning thought.

Pick starting line thought makes you feel pretty terrible. Be honest with yourself. Pick one simple thought. For instance, let’s say you care about running, but insist on stating to others and more importantly, to yourself that

“I am not a good runner”

and then have a finish line goal thought that would be the opposite of this thought:

I am a good runner.


I am I strong runner.

These goal thoughts are not meant to be super inspirational. They are simple. They are improvements of your original thought. You probably look at your goal thought and think, “hmm, that looks nice. Wish I could think that.” **Caveat, if you look at your goal thought and you feel good, then you have actually found a thought at you already believe. So just pick a new one.**

So now we have our starting line (lane 8) and our finish line (lane 1) thought.

We just need to fill in the other lanes of thoughts in the middle. Put the starting line thought in lane 8, the least desirable plane to run a distance event (sorry, sprinters, this metaphor does work perfectly for you – I know that lane 3 or 4 is usually preferable for your races. Just go with me at this point.) Lanes 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, each need a thought that is slightly less crappy than the one before it. So for the “I’m not a strong runner” example, your thought track could look something like:

Lane 8: I am not a strong runner.

Lane 7: I sometimes have easy runs that don’t completely suck.

Lane 6: I sometimes have workouts that don’t completely suck.

Lane 5: I am open to believing that I don’t completely suck at long runs.

Lane 4: I am open to believing that I can surprise myself with my speed.

Lane 3: I am open to believing that I can improve my endurance.

Lane 2: I am open to believing that I can improve my speed.

Lane 1: I am a very strong runner.

There you go! Each lane is a step towards what you want to think.

Notice how these thoughts are mostly neutral.

They are not particularly revolutionary, yet when practiced, they will completely change your relationship with running (or whatever you choose to do thought work on: relationships, money, work, etc.)

And practicing is the key - just like each time you start a new run you clear and reset your watch, each time you have a lane 8 thought, you need to consciously hit stop and think a lane 7 thought, then a lane 6 thought, all the way up to lane 1.

We need to exert more agency of what we think.

We have a choice.

It just takes work to get there.

If this thought work exercise was helpful for you, check out my upcoming Run Your Life Masterclass and Virtual Retreat on August 15th. We will be diving into a lot of our thoughts and habits that hold us back in life and in running (usually without us even knowing it!)

Tickets still available (but are limited and on sale for a limited time!) at:

Invest in yourself – I can’t wait to help you get started and watch you run in lane 1!

Stay well!

Xx Betsy


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