You know the drill, the body is starting to hurt and the mind wants to highlight that angst and pain like a hi-vis on a dark night.
An interesting question is always – is it my body or is it my mind? Am I actually at my limits? Is there anything left?
It’s not always easy to give up but it is easy to be tormented by the thoughts to throw in the towel. It’s easy to slow off and back out a little because we’ve convinced ourselves that we’ve simply reached the limit of what our body is capable of doing.
It’s a fine line that lots of us stagger across like a drunken fool on a Saturday night holding a kebab.
Will my pig headedness result in me actually hurting myself?
Do I actually need to listen this time?
No guts, no glory – right?!?
So here’s the thing. We have to be able to have an objective and honest assessment of ourselves and of where we are. Not the catastrophized version of “SEE, you didn’t do enough training” “why did you ever think you’d be good enough” “you’re simply not fit enough” “you’re too old for this lark now” blah blah blah. We need to be also not be so bullish that we will keep going at any cost and end up in a heap in A&E.
So that fine line is one we totter around.
Seeking the objectivity of being able to remove ourself from our self talk and really tune into our body and what it’s really telling us.
What can you do?
A quick body scan
Nope, we don’t need to be diving down to the local hospital to dive into the mega machine that gives a detailed view of all elements of our body but we can get really conscious and into the moment and check in with how we are feeling. How are your fingers, are they relaxed and not in a death like grip? How do your arms feel? Are they loose and flowing and supporting your running with a rhythmical and pleasant backwards, forwards action? Are your shoulders relaxed or are you all hunched up? Relax your torso and make sure you’re not compensating by leaning backwards or forwards unnecessarily. How’s your glutes – are they engaged and involved in the running process? The Quads? The Knees? The calves? The ankles? The feet? The neck? Your jaw? The head/mindset? It gives you a little moment to identify whether or not you’re relaxed. If you have subconsciously tightened up then this is your chance to let go of that tension, which will immediately make you feel better.
The next on the list is the humble mantra. For some this might bring on a bit of an eye roll. For some it might feel a little woo woo or airy fairy.
A mantra is a word of phrase that can be used in order to focus the mind and bring you into a different state of mental resonance. There’s a whole stack of science behind the use of mantras that I won’t get into right now but will say – they are worth giving a blast.
A mantra isn’t an off the shelf jobbie.
Your mantra needs too mean something to you, it needs to kick your butt. It needs to leave you feeling inspired, centred and motivated to do your thing.
Don’t let yourself down
Prove you can
Show yourself you can
I can & I will, watch me
I’m strong & fluid & relaxed
I’ve got this
Stronger with every step
An inch is a synch, a yard is hard (for lengthening your stride)
You’re stronger than this
You’re a warrior
You’ve got this
Faster, further, higher, stronger
I would go on and on and on with suggestions.
Pick a couple and try them out in your training.
How do they make you feel? Can you use them like a little bolt of caffeine when you need them?
Switch Your Expectation
You’ll always get what you expect!! Right now, in the moment, what are you expecting to happen? How are you expecting to feel? If it’s anything short of positive then is there a way you can turn that around?
Where we focus our attention is where we see results, either positively or negatively.
I now employ all of these tactics, almost on auto pilot.
At the weekend I ended up out of my depth! I won a place in the Ambleside 60k trail (<< read “fell”) race in the Lake District.
I wasn’t match fit.
I had every reason why I shouldn’t be doing it and I had every opportunity and justification to start to explore a negative mindset in relation to my chances at the event.
I hadn’t ran that far for 6 months.
I’d never done a race with so much ascent.
I wasn’t in shape.
What if I damaged the hip that had been a bit niggly a couple of weeks ago.
BUT I decided that that negative dialogue had absolutely no place in the adventure that I was going to undertake. I BELIEVED and I mean really believed that I was capable and able to get around the course. It might not be quick, it might not be pretty but I could do it and my quest was to go out there and prove that I could rather than go out there seeking evidence that I couldn’t, wasn’t fit enough, wasn’t capable.
Your mind is the most powerful asset to your running success. Your mind will always try to protect you before it needs to. I heard the brain described as the most selfish organ in your body and it will try to protect it’s fuelling and systems long before your body is ready to crash.
Your mind can be the different between the race finish, or not – the PB or being close (because you didn’t believe you were quite up to it or you had a block about being capable of getting over that next barrier).
Harness your mind & your running can’t do anything but improve!