By guest blogger Ben Lucas, co-founder of Flow Athletic
I’ve been running for a long time and I’ve seen both ends of the scale – I’ve completed runs where I’ve felt I’ve achieved an amazing race and then others where my body has just not wanted to perform.
One of the toughest things when running, whether it is a race or a training run, is getting the mentality right. The difference between an enjoyable run and one that is an absolute chore can be all in the mindset. No matter if it is an easy 5km run or if you’re running a marathon, the thought process is generally the same. Every time I head out the door and hit my stride, I practice the same techniques to ensure I ‘get in the zone’ and make the most of it.
These are my top tips for getting into the mindset of a runner…
- The most important thing I do when I’m running is to break up the mileage. I try not to think about the full distance itself but instead split it up into smaller parts, focusing only on the part that I’m running. For example, If I’m going for a 15km run, I tell myself I am heading out for 3 x 5km runs. All I need to focus on is making the next 5km in good form.
- Disassociation is another tried and true mental running trick that I practice. It is basically taking your mind off your running and placing it elsewhere. A common disassociation technique is focusing on the external environment around you – concentrate on sights, sounds and smells surrounding you on your run. You will forget about any challenges or discomfort and will reach the finish line in no time.
- The direct opposite of disassociation is association, which funnily enough is another useful trick to make the mental journey more enjoyable. One type of association I practice is inner monitoring. I use this technique to focus closely on my form – my breathing, stride mechanics, foot stride, posture, pace and the condition of my body as a whole. It helps the kilometres fly by!
- When running, I also try to eliminate negative thoughts. Anytime they start to creep in, I try to replace it with a positive mantra. Usually I just repeat something easy like, “You can do it, I feel strong”. It sounds silly but positive affirmations like this really work.
- My final key technique to manage the mental challenge of running is I visualise how this run I am doing is going to help me succeed on race day. I visualise how I want to look from the outside while I run and try to take that form. I also visualise how good I am going to feel at the end of this run (and what I am going to eat), so I stay strong all the way to the finish.
About Ben Lucas
Former rugby player and athlete Ben co-founded popular exercise and yoga studio, Flow Athletic, with Sporteluxe regular contributor Kate Kendall in Paddington, Sydney. Follow him on Instagram here.
Image credit: iStock