Most people think that running is all physical and yes, I guess it mainly is but there is another equally important component and that is your mind and that needs training to!!
For most runners its the battle between getting home from work and going out for a run to sitting down with a brew. Now as the nights are getting darker and colder the brew option becomes even more tempting. I’ve been there day after day and believe me it still happens but it’s how you manage that negative mind talk and get yourself out there.
There are lots of ways and means and it’s working out what works for you. In an earlier blog I’ve mentioned about having your training plan written down so you can tick the sessions off which can help. You might write down how good you felt after a previous session which you can read to remind yourself of that feeling, others may simply have their kit laid out ready to go or put it on before they leave work so they are ready to go as soon as they get home. For me, I have to get home and put on my running kit straight away and as soon as I have my runners on I’m good to go. Once out that front door breathing in the fresh air and feeling my body come alive there is no going back. Other methods might be going out with someone else or meeting someone on your run or having a list on your kitchen fridge or somewhere you see all the time of reasons why you run….simple little reminders.
For beginners this can still be extremely difficult and I can completely understand this and I’d simply say find a friend if you are really struggling, a good friend who you know you would listen too and ask them to give you that gentle nudge of motivation if you are having a particularly bad day. Someone who understands your motivation, a fellow runner is often helpful as you know they know how you feel and may understand your motivation and then dont look back. The more you practice different techniques the easier it can become as your mind gets stronger. It’s important to note at this point too that running isn’t easy….the concept is easy but actually getting out there and running isn’t but then nothing is, is it? Remember this when you are struggling and remind yourself of what you have achieved so far and reflect on your achievements, be it that you’ve ran your first mile or that you’ve finally got past that 6 mile mark…no matter how big or small it is important you acknowledge how well you are doing.
If you are still struggling compromise with yourself and if you were planning to run 4 miles but your heads just not in it ‘trick’ yourself, think ok I’ll just do 2 miles and see how I feel and the chances are 9 times out of 10 once you’ve done those 2 you’ll feel great and decide to get the other 2 miles in too. Equally though if this doesn’t work just run the 2 miles…..2miles is better than none isn’t it???
For other runners that may have a little more experience the mind can become more troublesome when trying to push on in terms of distance or when you are simply having an off day. The most effective method I use is ‘tricking’ myself which you probably think sounds completely ridiculous but it’s what works for me. If I’m going out on a Sunday for a long run and my head isn’t in it I simple think ok, I have 3 miles to warm up and 3 miles to cool down which therefore means before I’ve even started ‘properly’ running I’ve covered 6 miles already. You probably think this sounds stupid but it does actually work for me and the reality of it is I’m ‘properly’ running all the time it’s just I’ve taught my brain to think of it differently and I’ve broken the run down. I’m pretty good at getting myself out the door now so I don’t usual have as much of a battle with that anymore so this is where I’m at with training my mind!!
BREAKING IT DOWN
During a run I often think it would be interesting to record my mind if it was possible. For long runs I break the run down all the time. When I was marathon training it would be when my next gel might be. For example, I’d do my 3 mile ‘warm up’ then at mile 6 I’d have a gel. Then I just push on to 10 as when I get to 10..well that just a good solid number isn’t it?. Next on to mile 12 for another gel and then well by the time I’ve finished that gel and washed it down that’s 13 miles done already and so on it goes until I reach mile 23 ready for the 3 mile ‘cool down’. Have a go at breaking a run down in to what you can find manageable. I generally don’t have gels anymore but mentally my brain can cope without this now and I more often than not can get my mind in to a space where I actually sometimes don’t even remember the first half of a run, I’m just enjoying myself and taking it all in.
ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
Lastly one thing that has always stuck with me is anything is possible in a minute. This is usually what I use when I’m interval training and I’m starting to really struggle. Think of what is actually possible in a minute….not a lot….a minute of running is nothing, you can do anything in a minute. Use this for a mile or any other possible shorter measure of running and mentally you can feel much stronger.
This is all just a snapshot in to some of the methods people can use, if you have any techniques that are unique to you, share them….you never know who they may help.