Lately I’ve been running and communicating about running with close friends and family. We’re all planning on running the Riverton Half Marathon on April 8th, so training is underway – it will be the first half marathon for at least 4 of us.
I’ve ran 13 miles multiple times, but never officially in a half marathon… seems weird, right?
Anyway, one of the greatest struggles to overcome is the mental side of running. I remmeber when I was first getting into it and couldn’t go for more than a mile or two because I would get so BORED and my mind would tell me that I COULDN’T DO IT
Mental conditioning can be just as tough as physical conditioning.
I’ve thought of a few things that have helped me through the process of training, whether its preparing to start training (7 days, people!), preparing the week of the race, or even just preparing the night before a run.
Before the Run – Visualize
This seems silly, and to be honest, I was not a believer in this until i tried it. Some nights I’ll go to bed, not knowing what run I’ll do in the morning and I’ll tell myself “I’ll just see how I feel when I wake up.” When I wake up, it’s usually an hour before class because I slept through my alarm – no run gets done on those days!
I’ve noticed as I’ve gone to bed and thought to myself exactly WHAT TIME I’ll wake up and WHAT WORKOUT I’ll be doing, along with HOW I WANT THE WORKOUT WILL GO, it gets done, and I feel great.
Last night I went to bed and visualized myself doing mile intervals on the treadmill, and having a very successful workout. This morning, that is exactly what happened.
*Wanna steal my workout?! Today I did a 1 mile warm up, then 3 rounds of 1 mile sprint, 1 mile shake out at a moderate pace, and a 1 mile cool down. This can easily be converted to fit your time, fitness level, and goals.*
On a side note, visualizing has helped me day to day, not just in running. First thing in the morning I visualize that I will have a positive attitude and be happy, no matter what happens in the day.
We set ourselves up for our own success.
During the Run – Find what works for you
So you’ve successfully got yourself out the door, to the gym, or to your treadmill in the basement – now is when it gets hard. Starting can be easy, but legs quickly fatigue, you run outta breath, etc., and feel like turning around or getting off the treadmill. When I feel this way, a few things help me:
– focus on breathing, not on how far you’re going. One breath in, one breath out. Try to relax.
– turn up the tunes, throw on some netflix, or find a good podcast or audiobook to distract your mind
– remember why you’re there. Whether it’s to get in shape, to relieve stress, or to crush some goals, use your reason to motivate you.
– Switch it up – if you’re running at a constant pace, try doing a progression and increasing the pace every so often. Try doing intervals, either by time or by distance. This is one of the best ways I pass the time running.
– Take it down a notch. In my mind, I’m my own worst enemy because I always start off to fast and burn out too quickly. ITS OK TO TAKE IT SLOW, especially if you’re not feeling it. Turn down the pace, or even cut the run a little shorter if you’re really not feeling it.
– If you’re lucky enough to be outside (it’s -3 degrees right now) then try a different route! Running the same route can get boring, plus new routes will often have different terrain that can benefit your training.
– Let your mind wander. I’m a great example of this one (sometimes the weirdest things come to mind!). Running, for me, has helped me to think through life problems, school assignments, or even help me find inspiration about what to make for dinner that night. Welcome the random thoughts!!
– You can do anything for 10 seconds, 1 minute, 1 mile – This is my FAVORITE thing to say during a workout (just ask Tate how many times I say this during our 12 minute ab-burner workout lol). Seriously. Go for 1 more minute, 1 more mile, then just do it again 🙂
After the run – learn from it.
Whether you had the greatest run of your life or the worst run imaginable, remember it. Log your miles along with how the run went. For the good ones, remember how great you felt, maybe not during, but after. For the bad ones, remember that some runs just suck, but we have to suck it up and fight back against that. If you’re feeling really low, remember that tomorrow is a new day and it can’t possibly be worse that the last run, right? 😉
Every run will get a little bit easier to tolerate. Some days your mind will feel great, but your legs will disagree. Some days, it will be the opposite. But I PROMISE that every run you do will get easier to handle mentally (and physically).
We will all go through periods of self-doubt – and not just during a run. We all feel inadequate at different times and in different situations. Honestly, this is a part of life, but I believe if we remember what we have accomplished in the past, we will come to better understand what we are capable of. Set small goals that will help you reach your larger ones, and celebrate the little things.
Physically and mentally, you will become a stronger person with every step. Push through, and find your own success.