Stacking is a way we compile our little wins by building even more momentum and positivity. That, in turn, has the potential to build more successes.
This past weekend I wrapped up the last cross country season of my career.
As I reflect on the past few months, I've come to a realization: Learning how to gain positive momentum from every 'little win' throughout each day, week and month has completely transformed the way I have progressed and viewed my season.
Gaining positive momentum from small things is a useful practice in any season or situation. It can help you break down a big goal into smaller parts, keep a positive mindset throughout the entirety of a season and gain momentum toward your goal for the end of the season.
For me, it helped me believe in myself more, get excited about the challenges I was bound to face and progress in a linear fashion throughout the season.
But the reality is, these reflections can help you, too. Below, I've compiled five tips for how I learned to gain positive momentum throughout my season and how it transformed my performance as the season progressed.
This season, I focused on setting a strong intention for each hard workout and race. The key to this, though, was making the intention very personal and not result driven.
For example, my intention wasn't to "run 6:15 pace for the third and fourth reps" during a particular workout. Rather, it was to "practice positive self talk on the third and fourth reps." I know that I struggle the most on the last two reps of most workouts, because that's when the workout gets the hardest and that's when I start talking negatively to myself.
But by framing my intentions like this, I get more excited to approach the challenge of the workout and don't put as much pressure on myself to run a certain pace. By focusing on mental weaknesses, I started to see my outcomes get better and better, and without even trying I was running strong times by setting intentions to conquer them.
Re-label workouts based on whether you accomplish your intention. This allows you to leave a workout by shaping your mental edge around the things you did well instead of taking away the one thing you felt like wasn't good.
Sometimes, the one thing we're disappointed about can label the entire workout or race in a negative way, and most often these disappointments are result driven. But the problem with this is that this one thing does not outweigh the many other positive things you gained from that day!
When we label the workout as 'bad,' we lose all the positive gain we could've taken from all of the other 'little wins' we had throughout the day. Personally, making this change in mindset helped me take away positive momentum from everything I did -- even on the days that I wished my outcome was better.
I recognized that I had so many other successes within the workout, including accomplishing my personal intention for the workout/race.
Stacking is a way we compile our little wins by building even more momentum and positivity. That, in turn, has the potential to build more successes. It could be as small as getting a good night sleep or taking five minutes to stretch. It could be having your best workout ever. But every win matters.
At some point, I started realizing that the way I showed up to my next workout began from the moment I walked away from my last one. In reality, the energy we build and take away from each thing we do determines how we show up to our next task.
My mindset and the way I viewed myself after important workouts was how I continued to improve and build positivity, which made me so much more motivated to focus on what I did well.
Re-framing our successes is literally how we determine what we value as a win. But without knowing what success is to you personally, you can't set strong intentions and it's much harder to walk away from a workout feeling proud of yourself.
For me, this season was a comeback from injury. So from the start, I had to redefine my expectations. I viewed this season as a building block for track, but that's not to say I didn't have things I wanted to accomplish!
Re-framing my successes allowed me to feel accomplished about so many things despite my times being slower than I would've wanted them to be.
And even if you are not coming back from any sort of setback, re-framing your successes can help to set strong intentions and then break your goals into smaller steps so that you can accomplish more throughout the season.
Focus on Your Journey.
Don't let someone else's great day make your 'good day' feel anything less than. This is comparative thinking. You think to focus on the latter: What is a success for you? What was your good day? Did you accomplish your intention for the day?
If the answer is yes, it truly does not matter what anybody else does. Your teammates are there to help push you, not to make you feel bad about yourself. Everybody has their own journey and you must gain positive momentum from your own wins.
These are small mindset shifts that you can start incorporating to gain positive momentum and confidence throughout your season. Personally, I found a much stronger version of myself this season when I put these steps into practice. I hope it helps other people as well.
Overall, I chose to focus more consciously on my successes rather than my 'failures', and every workout and race I genuinely showed up excited to just get better and keep building my personal momentum. Keep stacking those wins!
Jessica is a 2019 graduate of Old Saybrook (CT) High School and a senior at the University of Delaware. She was a multiple-time CIAC State Open and CIAC Class Class S Championship qualifier and placer, and held PRs of 2:22.78 in the 800m and 5:07.42 in the 1,600m. This past spring, she was named on the CAA's Commissioner's Honor Roll. This is a monthly series where Jessica writes about important and wide-ranging subjects involving young and developing runners.