Running is an excellent way to get your body in great shape and keep yourself fit, however, many runners struggle with certain mental aspects of running. If your brain keeps telling you that you cannot go further, and it is impacting your running goals, the following steps can help you break through this mental barrier and on to greater fitness and longer, enjoyable runs.
1. Keep a running log or journal that tracks your progress. Use mileage, days run, time, or any other statistic that is meaningful for you. This could include attitude. Track how you feel when you get ready for your run, how your mood is during the early part of your route, and how your mood changes as you get tired or feel you are reaching your maximum limit.
2. Come up with motivational mantras that help you stay positive while running. The regular rhythm of running is meditative, and using a mantra can help you settle into a groove that will help take you past your previous distance “best” or get over the hump when you are feeling tired or unmotivated.
3. Grab your mp3 player and a pair of headphones, and queue up a good audio book or your favorite music. Bring material that is interesting and compelling so that your mind will be occupied and the negative thinking can not move in. If you find yourself feeling like you want to quit, put on a high-energy song and give it all you’ve got.
4. Start running with a friend that you know runs longer routes than you are used to. Tell them your goal of pushing past your mental stopping point. Use peer pressure to keep you going so that you can get over the hump of your emotional resistance.
5. Keep your eye on the ultimate goal you have set for your running program. Whether you are preparing for a marathon, have a certain mileage or time goal, remind yourself of how close you are when you feel like giving up, and keep pushing forward.
6. Have a dialogue with yourself while you are running. Each time the thought of quitting pops into your head, tell yourself that you will quit when you reach the next lamp post, or the next block, or another marker that is close by. Sometimes, when your internal negative voice is really strong, you may need to work on just running five more steps, then five more, until you get over the hump.
7. Give yourself rewards when you reach specific goals in your running program. It does not matter what the rewards are, but they must be meaningful to you and compelling enough that you will be motivated to work for them.
To get in great shape, and run longer distances, you need to learn how to act as your own fitness coach. This helps give you the objectivity you need to push yourself past mental barriers and on to more ambitious fitness goals. Integrate the above tips into your fitness plan, and before you know it, your mental barriers will be a thing of the past.