Running TipsWelcome to the first podcast edition of Inside the Mind!  The Inside the Mind series are interviews with athletes, entrepreneurs and individuals, going inside their minds so you can learn how they achieve their goals and success.

This Inside the Mind podcast is an interview with long distance runner, David Rivas.  He has been running for 19 years.  Even though David is chronologically age 36, biologically he has body of an 18 year old.  He knows the mind is a powerhouse and uses the power of his mind on a regular basis to break through limits.

The 4 Powerful Running Tips we will be covering today are:

  1. How you can use the power of your mind to reverse the aging process.
  2. Visualization techniques to push through fatigue.
  3. Self-talk and mental focusing techniques to get into a zone state.
  4. Goal contagion – how being around other people with big goals is contagious and inspires you to stay focused on your goals too!

All of these skills and techniques are not only applicable to running, enabling you to run faster, better and longer, but can also be applied to any sport and any goal in life. These are valuable peak performance skills that can take your life to the next level!

PODCAST:  4 Powerful Running Tips: Interview with David Rivas  29:03
* A transcript of this podcast is below

Additional Resources:


Coach Kiomi: Welcome to the first edition of Inside the Mind. I have the honor of interviewing David Rivas who lives in sunny Southern California. He has been a long-distance runner for 19 years, since the age of 10. As a child, he ran 10 miles from his house to his grandmother’s house with his mother, who is also a long-distance runner and a great source of inspiration for David.

David is now the young age of 36. He had back surgery and is training to run yet another marathon. Biologically, David has the body of an 18-year-old. He knows the mind is a powerhouse, and he uses the power of his mind on a regular basis to break through limits. He trains with professional mixed martial arts fighters for the fun of it and to stay motivated.

Not only is David a great athlete, he also has a heart of gold. He is a kind, loving, giving man. There are 4 peak performance tips that we covered in the interview.

  1. How to use the power of your mind to reverse the aging process;
  2. Visualization techniques to push through fatigue;
  3. Self-talk and mental focusing techniques to get into a zone state; and
  4. Goal contagion — how being around other people with big goals is contagious and can inspire you and help you stay focused on your goals.

All of these skills and techniques are not only applicable to running, but any sport and any area of life. These are valuable life skills that can take your life to the next level.

Without further ado, here is the interview with David Rivas.

Coach Kiomi: Good day everyone. This is Coach Kiomi, and today I have a special guest from sunny Southern California, David Rivas. He has been running for about 19 years, and we met via Twitter.  He has run countless half marathons, 14 full marathons and a couple ultra-marathons, and he had back surgery about three years ago and is training for the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon.  David, welcome! Let’s start by having you share a little bit more about your love of running and where came from.

David Rivas: Oh, sure. Well, I started running, probably, when I was about 10 years old, with my mother, and she just loved to run. There were often times where I would go on runs with her to my grandmother’s house, which was about 10 miles, and she just loved running so much. So, I got a lot of my inspiration from my mother.

Coach Kiomi: Wonderful. You said that sometimes she slept in her running clothes and she did it consistently. You could see her runners high and the joy that she had in running — which you also got from her.

David Rivas: Yes. That’s right. She was a really hard-working mother and I miss her dearly. She passed away from cancer, and she was still committed to the running, because she had a passion for it, like I do right now, and even through her hard times, she still powers her way through getting through those runs — you know, to train marathons herself.

Coach Kiomi: Yes. That’s so impressive, and I think when it comes to running, that, often times with any sport, it’s a microcosm of how we live our life, it’s the mindset we have with running we often times apply to other areas of our life as well, and I’ve been impressed talking to you, because you have such a positive attitude, and you have reached out to me, and you sent me a question. You want to go ahead and just share what the question is you have about running?

David Rivas: Yes. Sure. I was wondering what mind altering techniques I can use to better the mind in different ways to power the mind through long grueling runs that sometimes I have to go through.

Coach Kiomi: You had mentioned that the mind is just this incredible power source, and that’s absolutely true. I think one of the things you had mentioned, as well, is that with getting a little bit older, that you’re feeling like you really want to take advantage of the power of your mind more, because you feel some changes in your body and your recognizing, “I want to maximize the power of this source, this brain of mine.”

David Rivas: Yes. Most definitely.

Coach Kiomi: Great! So, I’ve got a few ideas here. When it comes to our brain and the power of the mind, our body doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and imagined, and I think a lot of people, when it comes to their aging selves, they feel like, “Oh. I’m this age,” whether it’s 36, 46, 56, whatever, and then attribute some kind of — you know, almost “I’m aging and decaying or declining in some way,” but, first of all, there’s three types of ages, if you will. One is there is our chronological age, which is the date of birth. Then there’s our biological age.

And you probably know, there’s some people who have — are age 30 that have the heart of a 50-year-old, or some people that are 50, and they have the heart of a 30-year-old.

David Rivas: Yes.

Coach Kiomi: Have you met people like that?

David Rivas: Yes. I have a trainer here in California that helps me with my nutrition in some of the weightlifting that I do, and we just did the numbers, and my age came out to 18 years old.

Coach Kiomi: Ah, yes!

David Rivas: I have 10% body fat. I feel good.

Coach Kiomi: Yes. Exactly. Isn’t that incredible, 18 years old biologically! So, keep that in mind when you’re running, that you have the body, biologically, of an 18-year-old . . .

Now, the third type of age is psychological, and that’s how old we feel. One of the techniques and strategies you can use mentally is being able to visualize how you felt at the age of 18, running and being physically active, because the fantastic thing is you now have solid evidence that, biologically, you have all those traits of an 18-year-old.

David Rivas: Right.  You know, I always say to everybody — you know, when my birthday comes up — like, “I don’t get any older; I’m getting younger,” because, in my mind, I’m thinking, “I’m not getting older; I’m getting younger.”

Coach Kiomi: Yes. I love it! I think we all need to take on that attitude. That’s good for our listeners, a good affirmation. Rather than “I’m getting older,” “I’m getting younger,” and let me tell you about this study. It was done in the 1970s, and what they did is they took people who are age 75, and they took them on a, quote, unquote, “retreat,” and, at this retreat, everything was set up like it was 20 years prior, so they acted as if they were 55, and that whole week they acted, spoke, talk as if they were 55.  Now, the other group went on another retreat, but they just acted their same age. And after just a week of going to this retreat and acting as if they were younger, there were measurable biomarkers, changes in reversing the aging. Their IQ improved. That stiffness in the joints went away. They became more flexible. Their memories improved. There were all kinds of amazing changes. Even in before-and-after photos they looked younger, and they didn’t do any kind of physical activity — nothing. It was all the power of the mind. Pretty cool.

David Rivas: Yes. Wow! That’s wonderful!

Coach Kiomi: It is. It is. So, the wonderful thing is, there’s a lot of power that we can access with visualization, with acting as if.

There’s a couple of other techniques I want to share, and then I want you to share, because I know you mentioned you’ve coached other people and you have a lot to offer regarding your wisdom and a couple things when it comes to running it as well, and, when it comes to the best in elite athletes, things that they do. One, there’s this pre-performance ritual.

So, before running or before any activity that may relate to their sport, they will take some time and their pre-performance ritual can be a variety of things, but I think you had mentioned, you know, when we talked prior, that anything, like any day — some days are easier; some days are harder — and before running, of taking some time — to whether it’s have a little mini meditation; do some slow breathing; visualize yourself with one of the best runs you had — just remembering one of those, and, when you remember that, before you even start the run, you’re beginning to activate different things in the body, whether it’s energy in the muscles, whether you’re beginning to release certain chemicals of endorphins, adrenaline, just all this wonderful kind of positivity.

Do you do any preperformance rituals?

David Rivas: I’m so committed to it, and, when I’m getting up in the morning — usually the night before, I automatically set my mind and prepare my mind to go out and do what I’ve got to do just to get through it. I’m ready to go. I’m ready.

Coach Kiomi: Fantastic! So, you’re already in that great, ideal mindset. Wonderful! And it’s the night before that that’s something you automatically do, and for those . . .

David Rivas: Yes.  My mind is . . . Like I said, I don’t ever sleep with an alarm clock. The mind is so powerful. You can use it for everything. It can do anything you want to do with it. And I tell my children that, as well. So, I never, ever slept with an alarm clock. So, if I want to get up about 5:30, I’m up at 5:30. I’m out and going.

Coach Kiomi: That is such a great example, a wonderful reminder. I think there have been times when we all may have done something like that, when it comes to, maybe, we’re worried our phone alarm won’t go off or whatever, and we just — before we go to bed, we say, “Okay. I’m going to wake up at this time, and you program that in, and the body responds. So, that’s a wonderful reminder that we can do that, and, when we do a little things like that, they do remind us that our mind does have great power and our body does respond.

Then there’s some techniques during your run, a variety of different things that you can do. And tell me — during the run, there may be times where it may start off really energetic. Maybe someday is a hard days. You feel a little more tired. You feel like you’re struggling a little bit more.

David Rivas: Again, I’m going to bring up my mother, because sometimes some negative things or bad things that happen in your life still might motivate you through those runs, you know? Like I lost my mother, and she’s such an inspiration, and sometimes when I’m out there struggling on a long run, she’ll — and that’s the way to connect with her, and that will help me big time.

Coach Kiomi: That’s wonderful, and how do you connect with her when you’re running?

David Rivas: I can just kind of hear her voice and just visualize her telling me to keep pushing and to keep going, and she’s happy that I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s really neat. I love . . . It’s not like I try to go there. It’s just, sometimes it just pops up. Those are the best times.

Coach Kiomi: I bet, and does it feel like she’s almost right there, like you can almost really hear her voice?

David Rivas: Yes. Really . . . Yes. It’s like she’s right there in my mind telling me to keep going and pushing.

Coach Kiomi: Tell me how it makes you feel in your body. What energy does that give you, and how does that help you push through and push forward?

David Rivas: Well, say — like I’ll be running maybe a six minute mile, and then I’ll go into that zone with her inspiring me, and then look down at my watch and end up at like a 5:30 minute mile, like, “Oh, wow! Wait! What’s going on?”

Coach Kiomi: Yes. Exactly. You mentioned several things there, that, one, you get into a zone state. So, you are so at one with that energy, that voice, that presence of her, that you lose all sense of time and space, and that is something that is inspiring, that gives you energy, that makes you feel good, and that’s just a beautiful example of the power of your mind, because that is so internalized the minute you think of it, and it just doesn’t — you don’t even intentionally think about it, it sounds like; it just pops into your mind — your mother’s voice and that encouragement and the incredible way our psychology, our self-talk, visualization, the words that we say, are here, impact our body tremendously.

So, that activates, it sounds like even, a flow state, that you’re so at one with that, that, before you know it, you’re not even aware that you’ve been moving faster or increasing speed.

David Rivas: Yes. It’s not just the physical ability and how you perform out there. It’s what kind of a person you are, too, as well, that it helps you on the outside, treating others the way you would want to be treated, and it has a lot to do with your outside of the sport.

Coach Kiomi: Exactly. It is almost a way of life, isn’t it?

David Rivas: Yes.

Coach Kiomi: It’s a set of values, and, when it comes to peak performance and having that great energy, that what we do, who we are, and when it’s in alignment with our heart, with our soul, that that in and of itself gives us a ton of energy.

Then, also, just a couple other ideas for maybe the listeners — you can tell me if some of this helps as well. So, we covered that during the run you stay focused, one, in the moment, and that Zen type of focus, when it comes to be performance, that best coaches, the best athletes, they talk about “the Zen,” whether it’s the Zen of golf, whether Steve Jobs — he was really into the Zen way of thinking, that Phil Jackson also, all of these incredible coaches, people, executives — they embody these values and this presence and way of being, of being in the moment.

Also, in visualizing, one of the things. Let’s say the body’s feeling tired, and there’s a really wonderful psychologist — I can’t think of him now — but he has done a lot of research regarding fatigue and how our body me feel little bit of fatigue, which trigger something in the brain, which tells us to slow down or stop, but, when we’re aware that we actually don’t need to slow down or stop, we pushed through it and we get our second wind — that just being able to know that, has athletes be able to push through. So, being able to acknowledge the signals in the body but letting the brain — shifting your thoughts and perception of that fatigue . . .

A couple things, when it comes to visualization. Let’s say if the knees or the legs are feeling a little tired, being able to visualize you have springs in your knees or you’re like the Bionic Man, that can actually give a greater sense of energy and soften some of the sensations in the body, and, if there’s a feeling of feeling tired, one of my clients would imagine either a sled of dogs pulling him forward while he was running or climbing a hill, and just being able to visualize either someone pulling you or someone pushing you or a big gust of wind, that all of these things — again, the body doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and imagined, so you already used the power of your mind, that creative mind, and you can probably come up with a lot of different ways, at different times throughout your run, of being able to visualize energizing thoughts.

David Rivas: Yes. I just love the scenery. I’m in the Palos Verdes area, so I have the ocean, and I have the bridle trails I can run on in the sights and sounds. I don’t even run with music, and the smells of the trees and all those types of things come into effect and help me with my ability to perform well.

Coach Kiomi: Absolutely! When you’re in a beautiful environment, just being present to the smell of the trees, the beautiful view of the ocean, the smell of the earth, whatever it may be, all of those can be really wonderful, great.

 David Rivas: And a lot of times my mother, she would tell me — she’s like, “You visualize that time that you want to run that marathon in, and you’re going to get it,” and that’s stuck with me forever, and I do that just right before I run a marathon. I visualize that time that I want to run.

Coach Kiomi: Absolutely! And when you do visualize it, when you set the intention, you make it.

David Rivas: Yes, you do. Yes.

Coach Kiomi: Yes. And it’s another nuance of setting your alarm or not setting your alarm clock and just programming the body for the time to wake up. That’s a fantastic example of how we can program the body to also — when it comes to running and wanting to make a certain time.

Of course, there’s physical training and all of that, but having the power of the mind and engaging that makes a huge difference.

David Rivas: Mind training right there.

Coach Kiomi: It is. It is. Great! Wonderful! And then you mentioned that you coach other beginner runners, and what types of things do you provide them as words of encouragement, as support, as you’re coaching them?

David Rivas: Well, I helped out with Train to End Stroke.

it was for charity. There were some stroke victims and family members running for other family members that were stroke victims, and just helping a lot of them — you know, I’m giving them a lot of motivation and keep them pushing, and the majority of it is just motivation.

Coach Kiomi: Right. Words of encouragement and being able to say “You can do it,” and seeing that in them and believing that.

David Rivas: Yes. And a lot of times I would go out and run hard, and just them seeing me go out and running hard, it was a motivation for them. It would drive them to do even better.

Coach Kiomi: Well, wonderful thing is — I was reading a couple different books, and another author who was talking about people performance, some of the best athletes in the world, and they were interviewing the athletes. It’s really amazing how many of the athletes when asked “How did you do that?” they said, “My coach said I could.” The belief in their coach, in them, gave them that energy and confidence. Of course, they had some within themselves, but it fueled their inner passion and confidence.

David Rivas: And it’s true. I tell myself that all the time. Even if I don’t think I can, I’m still going to go out there and tell myself, “I can do this. I can finish.” Even if I’m going to finish and cross that line on my knees, I’m still going to go out there because I know I can.

Coach Kiomi: And then, also, something you shared is related to goal contagion, that when you’re around other people, whether it’s the people that your coaching — I think that’s so wonderful that you provide an inspiration and encouragement for people who are recovering from a stroke — and them just seeing you, just being in your presence, knowing that your running, seeing you run, they say, “Wow! If you can do that, then I can too,” and, with your mother — her mother was an example of goal contagion. You saw that day in and day out and ran with her as a child.

When you told me, at 10 years old you ran from your house to your grandmother’s house, which was 10 miles, that’s pretty rare these days, and that was just really incredible. I think that’s attributed to — whether its goal contagion, a great role model, all those things.

David Rivas: Yes, because I love seeing her come home from a run. She just had such good energy. That started her day, and she was so ready to go.

I had tons of energy too and I’m like, “Wow!” She could go out and run or come home with it a better state of mind and good energy. That’s what I wanted to do. That’s how I want to feel the rest of my life.

Coach Kiomi: Yes. I love it! And then you also mentioned that you have some friends who are professional MMA fighters, mixed martial arts fighters, and that being around people that push themselves, that that’s an inspiration for you too.

David Rivas: Yes. Yes. My trainer, Vince Ortiz, he was a professional MMA fighter, and he served a couple tours in Iraq, and sometimes being around good people, that will make you a good athlete, and that’s kind of therapy for him. We all push each other. Seeing them and what kind of workouts they go through — and sometimes we work out together — it’s just so motivating.

Coach Kiomi: Being around people that . . . And I love that there’s this give-and-take, then not only your coach — and I’m sure that you found that, being a coach, that, in the giving, you receive, and that’s the purest form of energy exchange, of inspiration, and, when that authenticity and selflessness is present, that’s also a really powerful experience.

David Rivas: There was a funny — Bret Cooper, he trains sometimes, and he fought Friday, and just to see him on TV fighting was like amazing . . . Because I know what he’s going through, and I know how hard he works at being as good as he is, and just seeing him in there and push three-minute round, it’s like, “Wow man!” He one in the second round, and my daughter was jumping up and down screaming like, “Yay!”

Coach Kiomi: And your daughter, she’s able to appreciate that, so you’re passing that gift of hope and possibility and potential in your daughter, and she’s seeing someone push himself and win, and even whether winner loss, right, that we gave it our best, and those qualities and values that you talked about of really giving it our all, giving it our best and knowing the power of our mind, is available and accessible to us anytime, anywhere.

David Rivas: Yes. So, even sometimes having a love for any kind of sport and meeting a professional athlete in that sport can be helpful sometimes, too. It’s just a good inspiration for people to meet somebody like that, and that gives them a drive.

Some of the MMA fighters are driving my daughter to push harder and compete — a healthy young lady.

Coach Kiomi: Well, it seems that for you it’s really “I’m going to make the most of my life, and I’m going to really do what I can to reach my full potential in keep pushing myself, keep excelling, and not for the end goal, but because the challenge itself is really rewarding and fulfilling.”

David Rivas: Yes. It is.

Coach Kiomi: And the outcome — if you win a race or get an award or whatever, it’s nice; it’s secondary, but it’s not the primary focus. Is that true for you?

David Rivas: Yes. It really is. [It’s] about finishing and doing what you’re doing, and that’s why I love running marathons, because, no matter what place you come in or what time you come in, everyone is a winner — everybody is on top. I’ve trained several runners for their first marathon and seen them a couple weeks after, and they just have this glow to their body, to their face. They have accomplished something that they didn’t think they could.

Coach Kiomi: Exactly, and the pride that we can feel in that accomplishment alone and that can take us and we can apply it to any other area of our life. It just builds a sense of confidence in this intrinsic sense of value and that “I can do this.”

David Rivas: Yes.

Coach Kiomi: Yes. All right. Well, I would like to thank you so much, David, for reaching out to me via twitter. It was so wonderful to make this connection and to have you inspire me and our listeners, and for us to be able to share this great time together, and I just commend you for the great role model that you are to your daughter, two other runners. So, thank you so very, very much.

David Rivas: Back to you. Thank you. You’re such a good inspiration and also help me with my running.

Coach Kiomi: Great! Thank you.

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© 2017 Coach Kiomi