One of the great things about running is that your biggest opponent is yourself. Only the elite runners and those of you who are wicked fast compete to win the race. Very few of us go into the race thinking that we’re going to win.
The true beauty of running is that you are sharpening yourself. You are making yourself better by pushing yourself harder. Not only are you becoming physically healthy but you are becoming mentally healthy as well.
Despite the simplicity of the sport, running is a series of decisions. And as you get further along, those decisions get harder. Running is often a chess game with your mind. You get to a point where your mind wants you to stop so you have to outwit yourself. You have to trick your mind because your body has so much more than you think.
So when you want to quit, try these three things:
Disassociate from the run: Think about something else. Anything else. Cake, horses, rainbows, clowns, things that make you happy. Let your mind wander. Your legs will continue churning and the pain and fatigue will be an afterthought. Occupy your mind and leave no room for doubt.
Breathe easy: Take long, slow, deep breaths. All the way down into your stomach. Almost as if you are trying to make yourself belch. Relax and listen to yourself breathe. Enjoy the rhythm.
Imagine the fans: Listen to them cheering for you. See your friends and family rooting you on. Imagine the finish line where the spectators are clapping and yelling. Let their admiration and respect fuel you.
Running isn’t just a physical endeavor. It’s part mental. Keep pushing yourself. You’re only getting stronger.
What do you do to get through those mental roadblocks?
Running is therapeutic. It’s like a good massage when you are tense. It’s like having a good conversation with a friend or family member or taking a hot shower on a cold day. Running is an escape.
It’s not always about competing. Running is not always about hitting that personal best. It’s often about getting away and leaving the world behind.
Try it sometime. Pick a route you know. Take the watch off. Leave the iPod at home and just run. Forget about everything else. Hear the wind whistle in your ears. Feel your heart beating. Listen to how you breath. Disconnect.
“I can’t do that. I’m training for a marathon right now.” you say? All good marathon training plans have easy days in them. They are built in on purpose. Pick a route where you know the mileage and take it easy. The marathon is half mental. It put’s stress on the mind as well as the body. Give your mind a break and just run.
I won’t hurt your progress. I promise. In fact it may help.
I alluded to Zen running in a recent post about gadgets. Zen runners don’t need to be connected. They probably don’t want to be connected. Thats why we call them Zen runners. They run just to run.
Give it a try. Escape. Disconnect. Run free!
Question: Do you ever run just to escape life?