Whether you’re preparing for a competitive race like a marathon or half-marathon or you just want to increase your stamina and endurance while running, training your body to run long distances can be hard, not only on your lungs and legs, but also on your brain. Sometimes, when exhaustion kicks in, your brain may be quick to tell the rest of your body to stop. Unfortunately this signal is no good when you’re at mile 10 of 13 in your half marathon. Therefore, one runner, Tina Haupert, told Health.com these 5 mental tricks that she uses to get through her long runs:
- Break it up: If you’re used to running shorter distances, this trick might be right up your alley. Tina said, when she’s about to run 12 miles, she breaks it up in her head as 3 4-mile runs. For her, a 4-mile run is a more manageable mental task. Focusing on a few short term goals instead of the huge end-goal can prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and help keep your brain in the game.
- Pick a destination: This tip is great if you’re running outside, which in itself is a much better mind-motivator thanks to interesting scenery. Again, breaking up your run into smaller goals, for instance picking out landmarks along the way, can give you something to look forward to and keep your brain active, preventing mental burnout. Tina said this trick makes the miles fly by because it helps her to stay distracted so she’s not constantly looking at her watch, counting down the miles.
- Recruit a friend: You know what they say, “two head are better than one.” Fortunately, this applies to running as well. When you have a running buddy, many fun mental tricks happen. One, conversation with a friend can distract you and keep your mind busy during the run, making it feel much easier. Two, misery loves company and sometimes just knowing another person is there with you can make the trek less painful. Three, having a pal can create some healthy competition, causing a renewed sense of purpose and motivation in your long run.
- Use motivational mantras: In this case, talking to yourself is a perfectly sane thing to do. When you notice your enthusiasm waning and fatigue setting in, saying some positive phrases that buoy your morale may be just the ticket to making it through your run. Some of Tina’s favorite mantras are: “You’re stronger than you think you are”, “You’ll want to give up. Don’t.” and “The best things in life are the ones you work the hardest for.” Find one that works for you and start talking to yourself.
- Imagine yourself on race day: Tina visualizes what it’s like to run in front of all those spectators, with other competitors all around. The adrenaline and motivation that comes from the excitement and pressure of a race can strengthen your mind’s resolve to keep going.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
Image Credit: Runner by Tony Alter. Used under a creative commons license.
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