Have you ever noticed that many times during training runs you seem to struggle much more than if you were competing in a race? It’s a Monday afternoon and I begin moving forward for the first few steps of my usual route. It’s not too long before I start to feel winded and weak. The aches in my legs are screaming for me to turn back and call it a day. Instead, I take control of my mind and force my body through the workout. These are the days we wonder why we do this to ourselves. After a few miles the pain begins to subside and my breathing seems to flow more naturally. Conversely, when I went to the starting line of the Eggshell Half Marathon last weekend, I felt nothing. Not a pain or discomfort and life was pretty good for most of the race. The last three miles are a different story but this example shows that we have abilities within ourselves that, on occasion, we are simply too lazy to utilize. Sure, an injury is a legitimate pain that can’t be tuned out but in the course of our weekly training regimen it is easy to get weak minded and run just to “get it over with”. Battling this mindset is what makes us who we are at our core: determined, strong and passionate. The struggles in our daily workouts can serve as character builders, but can also lead us down a road of repetitious drudgery filled with psychological pitfalls. Today I would like to share some of my tips for overcoming the strife we face out there on the running path.
1.) Change the environment in which you run. Find new surroundings or a place that you have not visited in some time. Even if you must drive a few more miles to get to your destination, do this once a week and it will be well worth it.
2.) If you listen to an mp3 player be sure to rotate your playlist regularly and seek out new motivational music as much as possible. I have found some great music from bands I never would have heard of by searching youtube. There is so much more out there than what you hear on the radio.
3.) If you are taking on a five or six mile run, start slowly and keep that pace through the second mile. I find that this method gives my muscles a chance to warm up and be more prepared for the distance ahead. You don’t want to beat yourself up right out of the gate. Sometimes the legs will stage a revolt and it is best to trot for a while and have the run be an enjoyable experience rather than an exercise in agony.
4.) Run where there are other people. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to stop in front of a dog walker, cyclist or fellow runner. Even when at my weakest, the minute I encounter another human being, I envoke my personal rule, “You can slow down, but you can’t stop”.
5.) Make it a point to run with multiple friends if possible. Sometimes just the camaraderie can take your mind off fatigue or pain. Before you know it, your daily run will be completed with ease.
6.) Try to imagine interesting scenarios. Think about some of your favorite movies or books and put yourself into the story. It doesn’t hurt to have corresponding music as well. We won’t talk about how many times I have run with Captain America or chased down Darth Vader while blaring John Williams in my quest to finish a particularly long run. Keeping your mind occupied in this manner has been beneficial to me since I started running. Have a great day and remember, run for fun, but race to place!
© Copyright 2012 The Hornet, All rights Reserved. Written For: Adventures In Running