Is running a wholly physical activity? Or can you learn how to mentally run faster? After all, endurance, training, strength, and performance commitment is what running is all about.
So how much of running is mental? Believe it or not, there are arguments stating that running is 90% mental and only 10% physical. How true is this?
Running Requires a Good State of Mind
The expression “mind over matter” plays an important role in running. While being in good shape is good, being in a great state of mind is better.
Apprehensions or not being confident about your performance can give you bad running results even when you’re in perfect physical shape.
Our brain and our thoughts are the most powerful things we all have. Taking advantage of our inherent mental prowess holds the key to accomplishing what we set out to do. Believing you can do it is the ideal attitude every runner must have in all their runs.This really enforces the mental aspect of running.
Natural High Brought on by Running
After running, don’t you feel like you own the world? This feeling of euphoria is also known as a runner’s natural high. The endorphins in the body work overtime to make way for this euphoric rush after a particularly good run.
Endorphins are chemicals in the brain that brings on happy thoughts when we become successful in doing something. Running can release these endorphins, thereby making it a mental sport other than a purely physical activity.
How can You “Mentally” Improve Your Running
Thinking positive thoughts about your running can provide you with peak performance at any time and all the time. Exercising the mind is as important as training the body. Your state of mind can dictate whether you’ll be running good or bad, easy or hard or slow and fast for the day. Shifting the mind to positive gear is the best way to achieve your best performance in every run.
Whether you’re a novice or a veteran runner, visualization is a handy tool to have. Visualizing your performance for the day has shown to boost energy, reduce stress, manage pain, and better concentration on a run. This applies to any distance of running. How to mentally prepare for running a mile or 26.2 miles; it all the same mindset.
Here are some mental tips for running and guidelines to help you improve your performance:
Watching a video about the powerful and fluid form of Olympic runners is one way of encouraging you to imagine yourself doing the same. Mirroring their form by implementing them in your daily workout eventually improves your running performance.
Let your imagination work for you by picturing a mental image of your running goals for the day. Let go of feelings and emotions that tend to distract you from concentrating on the run. Turn your entire focus instead on the running you’re about to do.
Practice proper breathing techniques
Proper breathing techniques center your mind and body on the run. Before you start on the run, feel the rise and fall of your stomach by laying a hand over it. Imagine a balloon being filled as you inhale deeply. Next, imagine the collapse of the balloon as you exhale. Do this several times until you feel centered on the run.
Maximize your senses
Mindfully hearing, feeling, and seeing heightens every running experience while keeping you focused as well. Listening to music can often distract instead of remaining aware of your surroundings. Staying aware of your environment and your running is the best way to improve your game mentally.
Visualize a magnet
There are times, try as we might, that we become tired and want to quit. Visualizing the finish line as a magnet that effortlessly pulls you will give you that extra spurt of energy. The magnet visual effect takes your mind off from the fatigue you’re feeling. Practicing this technique regularly will eventually make every run fun and exciting.
Imagine having springs on your feet
Sometimes you feel leaden and unable to run. The technique to overcome this is to imagine your feet to have springs on their bottoms. This means that you will be springing instead of sprinting as you run. Visualization is a powerful tool to use to shake you out of the doldrums of running.
Breaking the run into doable chunks
The challenge of, for instance, a 26-mile marathon run could be mind-boggling. However, visualizing a 13-mile run is feasible. By mentally breaking the run into doable chunks gives you the motive to start the race and stay on it.
The next step is to imagine doing two 13-mile runs. Visualizing it this way is a smarter technique than thinking of running for 26 miles.
A pep talk is a great tool used by coaches to encourage athletes to improve their performance. Practice this by telling yourself that you are confident, strong, relaxed, and tall for the run ahead. The practice of self-talking to yourself every time you feel a temporary dip in energy and confidence levels mentally helps you to overcome them.
One stride at a time
One way to overwhelm your run is to think about the number of miles you have to do. This is actually a pointless and negative attitude that makes you give up before you are ready to start. Tricking your mind instead to concentrate on one stride at a time is the technique to finish the run smoothly.
Focusing on one mile at a time is another way to hurdle over the seemingly daunting task of running.
Believe in yourself
Always believing you can do it if you set your mind to it is the ultimate mental tool to use every time and all the time. Nothing can stand in your way if you implicitly believe in yourself.
The brain is the undisputed king of the body. It alone can dictate things that your organs and muscles have to follow. Running can be a daunting task when the brain is allowed to think so. The best way to counter negative thoughts is to replace them with positive ones.
Running or any other form of physical activity can become tough and hard only if you allow yourself to think it is. Tricking your brain to make it go the extra mile with you is the smartest way to hurdle over any obstacle that comes your way.