This Runner's Trials

Mind games

Posted by runnerstrials

Wow, so it appears from my last post as if I’m the only one not using compression socks!  I cannot wait to get them after hearing all of your praises.

I’m sure you guys are getting sick of hearing me say that running is a mental sport. But it’s the truth. And I’m not a liar. So you’re going to have to keep listening to me say it ;)

I honestly believe your state of mind can be the difference between a “good” and a “bad” run.

Actually, let’s go deeper: Your mindset can also help determine if you have a “good” or “bad” day. Or a happy vs. unfulfilling life. No one wants to hang around someone who is negative and complains all the time, right? Being Debbie Downer = no friends= loneliness. See my point? Of course you do…

I love to run. Shocker, right? But most of the time sometimes getting through my runs is tough.

Today I had an 8 mile run with 4 one mile speed repeats scheduled. On the treadmill. During a rainy day. After a hard day at work.

Part of me did not want to run. But the other part of me- the part I like more- was eager to cross my last interval run off my marathon training schedule.

It took all of my willpower to lace up my beloved Brooks. As soon as I stepped on the treadmill, I wanted to get off. I knew I’d have to rely on my mind to guide my legs to that imaginary finish line.

And guess what? The run went spectacularly! 8 miles at an average 7:53 pace with 4 miles at 7:13. The session completely re-energized me and left me in a good mood.


So how did I get through it? Here’s a glimpse into my mind tricks:

  1. It’s only one hour. (Ok, so it was really one hour and 3 minutes.) One twenty-fourth of your day. Sure, one hour seems like eternity when you’re out there pounding the pavement or the treadmill belt. But I bet you’re one hour lunch break or episode of Glee breezes by. Case in point.
  2. Lose yourself in the music, the moment… I don’t exactly listen to music in the traditional sense when I run (I can’t put things in my ears :( ). But I do sing songs in my head. Today- like most days- Eminem was on repeat during my speed intervals. The more inspirational, the better.
  3. Fight a different battle. For most of us, there will come a time where we’ll do something much more physically challenging than running. For me, it’s yoga. Kidding… kind of. When the going gets tough, I try to relish the feeling. I want to remember how strong I am so when I need to fight cancer or push a tiny human out of my girly parts, I can call on that strength to get me through it.
  4. My body was made to do this. God gave us legs for a reason. Do you know why almost all adults suffer from back pain (source)? Is it because most of us are dedicated athletes? I’ll let these maps from my beloved Centers for Disease Control and Prevention answer that question. No, folks it’s because we sit in front of the computer, steering wheel and television for hours on end. Our bodies were meant to move. Just be happy you only have to run and not hunt, gather and dodge tigers like our ancestors.
  5. I am awesome. And so are you! Envision yourself running your next big race. Hell, imagine you’re running the Boston Marathon, the Olympic trials or away from that tiger. Thinking about how strong you are in that fantasy may directly affect your current performance. Positive mental imagery is kind of amazing that way.

What mental games do you play to get through tough workouts?

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