Overcoming mind chatter to get out and exercise

overcome the mind chatter

I’ve been seriously struggling to run lately, and I’m finding ways to get it done, but still, sometimes it’s always hard. It’s the chatter in my monkey mind, you see. The constant negative talk that I have to negotiate with in order to lace my shoes up and get out the door.

Do you get that? It sucks, am I right? But you don’t have to let it stop you. In fact, letting it stop you only serves to make that chatter louder and more powerful the next time. Chatter is just that – words. If you are determined to overcome it, then you will. It’s hard, but you can do it if you determine to defy it. Every. Single. Day.

Sound exhausting? Don’t worry. One of the good things about defying the chatter is that every day you do it, the chatter gets softer and a little bit less powerful. Cool, right?

Last week, I had one such typical struggle. I got home afterwards and took poor Husby through the whole thought process from beginning to end, which led to a conversation about the difference between our brains.

Is it a Man v Woman thing? Or is it because I am constantly managing varying degrees of anxiety? Probably a bit from column A and a bit from column B.

This was me, just four short months ago. Seems like a lifetime.
This was me, just four short months ago. Seems like a lifetime.


Here’s what I mean. This is what I related to Husby that went on in my mind on Saturday morning:

3.15am What time is it? Sun isn’t up yet. I really don’t feel like running this morning. Maybe I should turn my alarm off.

4am Fucking cat – how dare you climb onto the bed and scratch the baby! Is Little Red okay? Yep, back to sleep. I really don’t have to run this morning. My sleep has been so interrupted, I could probably do with the extra z’s.

5:45am Alarm. Damn. Should I lie here? I could just lie here. What’s the point of running anyway? I don’t feel good. I had tonsillitis earlier this week. Maybe I’m still recovering. I probably should take it easy. I could always just go for a walk. Ugh, what a loser!

5:50am Okay, here I am, I’m getting out of bed. I go to the toilet and into the bathroom to wash hands. Look at that, some wily minx has laid out my running clothes in the bathroom – well played, Tate. Okay, I’ll put them on and then see how I feel. My shirt from the Brisbane Half Marathon – it was only three months ago I ran 21km in two hours…okay, I’ll go outside. But I’m just walking. You can’t make me run, so don’t even try.

I head out the door, trying to find the latest instalment of Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales’ podcast Chat 10 Dance 3 on my iPhone. It’s not out.

Fuck it. How can I walk without a podcast to listen to? Maybe I should listen to Serial. Everyone’s been raving about that. I know I’ll be way behind but whatever.

Serial starts downloading. It’s taking ages (i.e. more than three seconds).

Ugh, if I start listening to this, there is no chance I’ll break into a run. I’ll just plod along until it’s over. Is this how I will get to marathon level? NO!

What if I play my Happy playlist and then start walking and see how I feel?

Okay, playing Happy playlist. Start walking.

Second song in: Sunshine and Technology by the Smith Street Band – one of my favourite songs to run to.

How could I not at least trot!

I’m running. Okay, this isn’t so bad.

There are loads of very tall, very lithe long distance runners who all run in the same area as me. I’m sure they are some kind of genetic superhuman breeding program, and all in training to take over the world in their tiny shorts and swishy pony tails. They’re half-inspiring and half-overwhelmingly depressing. This morning I allow them to make me feel a bit shit.

Over-fucking-achievers. Bet they don’t have three kids at home.

But then Fred Astaire by San Cisco comes on. I’m bouncing. I’m lip synching. I’m waving my fingers to the beat. I get into a groove. I lose track of time and – as Eminem recommended – lose myself.

Hey look, I’ve run 5km! That will do for this morning. I’ve got the children to get ready for kindy and school, and I need to wash my hair before work. All right. Head home.

overcoming mind chatter

I make a cup of tea and spend five minutes regaling Husby with this stream of consciousness tale of the entire process.

He stares at me incredulously.

I say, “What? What do you think about when you go for a run?”

Husby says, “I think I might go for a run.”


Do you struggle with your monkey mind? How do you shut that fucking monkey up?

If you dig this, you might also like:

Taming Clive the anxiety monster
Living with anxiety: why you need to keep moving
How I learned to love running (and you can too)


Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.


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