Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dismantle the Mental Wall

Many times the hardest battle we fight when it comes to getting fit is the mental battle. I know by the fact that I have completed two half marathons that my body is capable of so much more than my mind gives it credit for. I have had runs and workouts where I have essentially given up as soon as I have started, but I have also found some ways to dismantle the mental wall brick by brick when I am running.

Practice Pacing

Pacing is important. I used to think that because I am not fast I didn't need to worry too much about my pacing. I have figured out that I am very wrong. When my pace is all over the place, then I run the risk of depleting my energy too quickly causing the wall to knock me flat on my rear. If I find that my pacing is off, I will focus in on my steps to fall into a bit of a rhythm. And even if you enjoy music when running, it is very important to turn it off for a few runs if pacing is a problem. I have also found that listening to music on my phone without using headphones and only the phone's speakers keeps me from pacing to the beat of the music too much.

Michelle's 3 M's

The three M's of running that I use to stave off the mental wall are Moment, Mantra, Meditate. It is very important to be in the moment when running. I do this by focusing on the little things around me that I wouldn't be able to take in if I were driving down the same street in a car. Sound dumb? I urge you to take a jog down a street you drive often; it might surprise you what you've missed. Look at the plants, animals, bumper stickers on cars, decorations on porches. Say hello to people you pass, wave to cars, and make it fun! Give yourself a mantra to keep yourself going. Anything for 10 seems like a good one to me. Running can also be a time to meditate, in whatever manner that may appeal to you. Maybe to you it means clearing all thought, focusing thoughts on problems you've encountered, or praying. 

Important tip: Plan ahead; don't think ahead! If you know you need or want to go a certain distance, plan your route ahead of time and memorize it so that you can stay in the moment instead of thinking about where or how far you have to go or have already gone. Put the distance out of your mind during the run and worry about that before or after.

Pump it!

Occasionally I will realize that my legs are beginning to drag. I usually realize it when I nearly trip due to stubbing my toe due to the dragging. When it feels like your legs are full of lead, start pumping your arms faster. I have occasionally told myself, "Come on, Michelle, one foot in front of the other," but this is the wrong idea. Body mechanics show that your legs will follow your arms, and it is much easier to focus in on pumping the arms faster than it is to focus in on the heavier legs.

Hold your head high!

My last tip has two parts. It is easy at difficult parts of a run to let your head drop or to begin looking at your feet. This is a bad idea because you are partially restricting your airway when you let your head drop, so hold that head high! This also goes to say that it is not the end of the world if you have to stop, walk, or just have a crappy run in general. Just know that you are trying, and even a bad run or walking is better than nothing at all. Just keep moving. You can do anything for 10!

No comments:

Post a Comment