Piece of Cake: Running Mindset

When I was first a runner at the ripe age of 14, I had a unique relationship to running. And by that I mean, I hated it. I joined the track team to hang out with boys and get full days off of school for meets. #goals
I wasn’t fast, and I couldn’t last long distances, so i was given the 800 meter. I came in last place in every race except one (which I was super proud of and hung my bib on my wall). What I distinctly remember about running was the thoughts that went through my head during those races. They included:

-This is awful
-I’m so hot
-I can’t run anymore
-I’m in so much pain
-Maybe if I collapse on the track right now, they will rush over to me, take me away, and I won’t have to keep running

Sounds like fun, huh? I can just imagine that tween on the track, trailing behind all those physically fit athletes. I’m proud of her for sticking in there!

In recent years, I’ve grown a much different relationship with running. I learned two crucial things for a successful run:

1) positive mindset
2) listening to my body

Let me break these down into examples.

Positive Mindset
You might have laughed at the things I was repeating to myself during my high school races. Or maybe you were able to connect to them and thought, Okay I may have said something similar to myself before. Marathon runners know this secret well: running is more mental than physical.

What does this look like for me? I like to choose simple mantras that promote a more positive mindset. Whether I believe them in the moment or not doesn’t matter. It is more like being my own cheerleader (instead of bashing myself!). Such as:

I am strong
I could run forever
I could run faster
I am powerful
I feel great
I am capable

If you’ve never tried a mantra before, you could choose one of these or create one that feels right for you. As I run, when my mind starts to chatter towards negative thoughts, I begin repeating one of these to myself like a chant.

Listening to My Body
A fellow runner used to coach me on running techniques. Her guidance often involved avoiding injury by listening carefully to her body and making adjustments to her stride.

As I run, I do constant check-ins with my body. Questions I ask myself often are:

-Am I keeping my shoulders back and relaxed?
-Am I using my arms?
-Am I keeping my hands and elbows relaxed?
-How is my stride? Do I need to widen my steps or draw them in?
-Are my hips in line?
-Am I using both sides of my body equally?
-Am I keeping my core engaged?

These questions are quick guides for me to listen to my body in order to work with it, not force unnatural movement.

Would you add any questions to this list? How do you check in with your body when you run or work out?

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