Andie Cozzarelli's Mental Training
This Saturday at 7:45am in Duluth Minnesota Andie Cozzarelli will line up for Grandma’s Marathon. She’s been here before, but this time her mindset is completely new. She’s been training her mind just as much as her muscles and she’s been recovering as seriously as she does mile repeats. And no matter the time on the clock or the place by her name, she’s way ahead of where she’s been.
We got the details on her new philosophies. Enjoy our talk with Athlete for Yoga Andie!
On Global Running Day you shared that you were celebrating by resting. What’s your philosophy around rest and recovery these days?
I have always had a hard time holding myself back. In the past I would have just kept pushing through, blaming myself for not being fit enough to get the work done. I have made mistakes in the past. I’ve ignored warning signs and every time it has ended in heartbreak.
I have big goals for myself but I have to recognize when my body needs to hold back. I found myself heading down a similar path and instead of grinding through it I had to remind myself of why I love running. Rest and recovery is a part of training and while my mind wants to run, my body needs to make the choices. I know how to be proactive when an injury is creeping up, but I haven’t allowed myself to approach training in the same way, until now.
There is this ideal that we should celebrate run streaks but I think the real celebration should be around how we feel when we allow ourselves to rest. Nutrition has also been a big theme within my recovery philosophy. I used to think of eating healthy to reach a certain body type but that’s not the key to improving my performance. Eating for recovery and for my body is the real key.
You started working with a Sports Psychologist this year. He explained you were “putting pressure on [yourself] from all angles, the past, present, and future.” How has meditation played into your goals of removing those unprofitable pressures? How do you stay present in the moment you’re in?
Dr. Swoap explained how meditation should be just as much a part of training as going to the gym is. Strength training, or even running for that matter, conditions my physical body to be prepared for races. Meditation conditions the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to keep the stress level down.
When my training and racing started sliding backward mid-season, I started becoming mentally stressed. I was worrying about everything, but the most pressing concern for me was the idea that I was never going to get out of the current rut I am in. Meditation relaxes me and keeps me centered.
I have had times when I have gone to bed stressing about something and I know if I just fall asleep I will likely wake up the next day with a clear mind about it. Meditation essentially works the same way for me. My go to is mantra meditation. I focus on the words which keep me present. The other thing I always keep in mind, how will me today affect me tomorrow.
How do you bring this practice into workouts? Do you have a mantra?
The latter half of this season, I knew I was headed towards overtraining if I didn’t do something. The natural thought process when we are struggling to reach a goal, is to do more, push harder, just keeping going. I started pulling back in workouts a bit by repeating the mantra “Stay within your bounds.” I have overdone workouts so many times and it hasn’t ever proven effective. Save the good stuff for race day! Additionally, Dr. Swoap told me to keep thinking, “Smooth, Strong, and Smiling.” I was getting into races and the moment they started to go south, I was panicking. This thought process allows me to reassess the situation and keep calm.
How do you actually incorporate meditation into your daily life?
I have been using the plan in Work IN to keep a daily practice. Beyond that I typically use mantra meditation before bed to help me fall asleep. I keep my daily practice to 5–10 min because that’s time we can all fit in.
Most used Work IN pages?
Mantra Meditation, Let Go Visualization, Recovery Visualization, Dissolve Tension Meditation, Relaxation Pose, Butterfly at the Wall, page 90 of Work IN for Physical Relaxation (I consult this page often when I need something specific).
Most used Jasyoga Video meditation?
Biggest surprise since beginning your practice?
It is almost like when I became mentally injured, and I acknowledged it, the addition of meditation allowed me to be more aware of what was happening. The physical stress became less debilitating when I started taking better care of my mental health. It doesn’t feel like 5 minutes of meditation and relaxation can really make a difference but it does. The cool thing is that an hour of work can be dramatically more beneficial when we put our time outside of training into recovering for real. Meditation is a super easy, quick, and powerful tool for optimizing recovery and it doesn’t take nearly as long as the work we put in.