Running And Conditioning The Mind

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In my daily working life i see thousands of people going about their daily business. I read magazines, books and websites and i wonder..”what is it that makes those people so different from me?” if it be educationally, employment or in this context their physical fitness. We see and hear all the time about the role of genetics and natural ability. While this may be true to an extent (after all someone who is 15 stone is going to be stronger than someone who is 10 stone) the divide between people of a similar stature, who eat healthily and live a healthy lifestyle is going to be minimal.

After spending some time reading and thinking i have drawn a personnel conclusion that it is their mental approach to their training and eating habits that helps them to excel. What are these attributes? How and why are theirs better than mine? Physically we know that if we live a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly we will make gains in our physical health. The mental qualities needed to set out on the path to physical improvement and to stay on this path long term i think are as follows.

Will Power

Tenacity

Stubbornness

Acceptance

Courage

Defiance

Passion

Persistence

Conviction

Self Belief

Each of these mental attributes are key to getting out the door, undergoing strenuous physical activity and continuing to do this week in week out. There are many different reasons and catalysts that put us on the running path but these mental qualities are what helps to keep us there when we are in the thick of it. Just as we need to physically exercise our bodies to improve we also need to mentally exercise so we can be mentally fitter and stronger, which will in turn improve our physical progression.

We need regular positive mental reinforcement to strengthen our mental resolve. This can be by gaining motivation and inspiration from the writing of others or their own physical endeavors. Simply collecting quotes can be a great way of mentally inspiring and strengthening ones own self belief. When in the middle of a run, tell yourself, “don’t stop!” , “keep going”, “i still feel fresh”, “i have energy”, “i can do this!”.

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When things are really tough going slow down but DO NOT STOP!  Use mental tricks such as telling yourself the quicker you move the sooner it will be over. Affirm to yourself the majority of the run is done, you’re on the home stretch. If you stop now you’ve still got x miles to get home, so keep moving!

It’s about personnel endeavor. Don’t think about others ability during a run. Don’t try and keep up or run as fast as others. Run your run, run your race. In training choose to improve time or distance, not both in the same training session. Always push the boundaries, you’ll surprise yourself! Don’t fear the discomfort, accept it! It will be uncomfortable but should never be painful, if it is, stop!

Do these mental processes often and your mental resolve will strengthen. You will go further and faster sooner than you think. When under physical stress and tension, you ache, your muscles are tired, mentally argue with yourself and beat your subconscious voice down. Lock the negative subconscious voice in a box, you can guarantee it’s the best escape artist that ever existed! but learn to beat it down and put it back in the box. In time and with some determination and persistence improvement will follow. When improvement doesn’t seem to be forthcoming , exercise your determination and persistance to keep you on the path towards your goal.

Run far, run fast but above all run fearless!

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8 thoughts on “Running And Conditioning The Mind

  1. I whole-heartedly agree with this. At the end of the day, the only thing that seperates “exceptional” people written about in magazines and books from “ordinary” people is that the former simply wanted something so much more – and found a way to make it happen.

    I would say that adopting a specific diet is a byproduct of this drive. I don’t think people like Scott Jurek or Rich Roll are amazing athletes because of their plant-based diets, I think they adopted their plant-based diets as part of a means to an end. As much as people joke about it, they’re not superhuman, they – and people like them – found away to tune their minds, bodies and souls in such a way that they were able to do extraordinary things.

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  2. You’re spot on! And when you get to the point where you’re wondering “is this all?” then do it for a charity, a loved one, something greater than yourself such as multisportministries dot com.

    A quote from a famous, recently disgraced cyclist comes to mind that I’ve used “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever”.

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  3. I. LOVE. THIS!!!! I rarely find blogs that think, believe, state the same that I do. Which to a large degree is ok because we are not all meant to be alike. I’m always talking about how much our bodies are capable of if we just let it do that and just believe. People act like I’m all crazy for talking such foolishness. Fine, more for me to dream, believe and achieve! Looking forward to your next adventure 🙂

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    1. It took some time thinking and soul searching before writing this post but was then written with honesty and openess. I’m glad so many people can also connect with my thoughts and feelings towards running. I’m not the fastest, I can’t run the furthest and sometimes my mind fails before my body. But I go home I rest and then another training day, another race I do it all again a little stronger mentally as well as physically than before. I’ve run 10k’s, done a couple of half marathons but I have much more I want to achieve and will keep plugging away. There will be down days and in those days I will seek encouragement from others blogs such as yourselves, I’ll then pick it all up again and get going. The one great thing I love about the running community is that they (you) are such positive people and offer so much encouragement to ordinary people like me.

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  4. I think this describes some of the things I need to develop so I can be a better athlete. I’m happy and encouraged to see I have a few of them already; makes me feel like I don’t have as far to go as I thought. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

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