Running. Is. Hard. It’s hard. The first is “getting out of the door”. Many people believe this to be the most difficult part. However, you can trick yourself by committing to running with a friend (you won’t let them down!) Adopting a dog that needs exercise is a good idea. Fido should be happy!
Then there is the actual running itself. It’s not likely that you will be among the most fit runners, but even then it’s going get painful. Your legs will burn, your lungs will squeeze and your brain will demand you stop. IMMEDIATELY.
This mental sucker-punch will occur 99.9% of all the time before you run any distance that you originally set for yourself. You might have planned to run three miles, but you are only halfway through. Or maybe you were planning to run twenty-two miles, but you’re now at mile fifteen. What do you say to your lungs, muscles, and brain? “Nope, you don’t get the chance to decide.” “I’m going to finish that d*** run.”
You have two main options to persuade your brain and body to shut down and go on with their lives: distraction or motivation. There is no one method of persuasion, or “trickery”, that is more effective than the other. Let’s begin with motivational methods to get you moving and your brain on track.
Visualize the end goal. You’re not just out there to pound the pavement for no reason. But, if your brain panics because your body hurts, it can make that reason seem “stupid.” Stupid. You want to lose those pounds? Stupid. You really wanted to win that bet? You are really, really stupid.
You can regain that sense of motivation (i.e. why you started running this race in the first place), by visualizing your goal being achieved and then picturing how you will add every Instagram filter to it. How will your 5k finish look? Is there anyone who will hug you at the finish of your marathon? What will you wear in the amazing jeans you have been eyeballing all day? This method will work better if you can visualize your goal clearly and can give more details.
Chunk the run. This is about finding little wins in your run. Imagine you are going to run three miles and your longest run was two and a quarter miles. It seems like a lot. The distance will not seem so daunting if you break it up and focus on each segment. You can recognize the things you’ve done and not just how many you have to go. This feeling of accomplishment will motivate you to continue running. You can reach a mental finish line six times if you only use half-mile segments.
The other way to get your brain to cooperate is to try and distract it from the breathless, my-legs-are-going-to-fall-off feeling that makes you want to stop. This can be done in many ways. These are just a few.
Turn up the music. Running with music can be both motivating and distracting. Costas Karageorghis (a sports psychologist) argued that music elevates positive moods such as happiness and excitement in Runner’s World’s Running With Music debate.
Karageorghis also suggests that music could be used as a distraction. Music can be an external stimuli, and block some internal stimuli from reaching the brain. This includes messages related to fatigue that come from the muscles or organs. These messages can reduce runners’ perception of effort and make them feel more capable of running farther and faster.
Repeat a mantra. A mantra can serve two purposes. It interrupts and drowns out negative self-talk when we are tired during a run. (Distraction!)
You can use it to motivate yourself if you say something like “I am strong” or “You can achieve this.” (Interestingly speaking to yourself in the second person, i.e. saying “you” rather than “I”, has been proven to be more effective. You can also use a mantra such as “Relax” and “Run tall” to help you run better.
Count. Deena Kastor, an American marathon record holder, wrote about this method in Let Your Mind Run. She used to count to 100 to distract herself during the race. This is one way to count, but you can also use external cues. Count the number of birds you see when you are in a wooded area. If you are running with a lot of runners, count how many blue hats or green shirts you see. This method can be used with cars, strollers, and dogs. . . Whatever you see during your run. Keep your mind busy and you will find that you can go on much longer than you thought.
Mental Strategies To Help You Persevere On Your Run Fitbit Blog.