Over the years, I have figured out that running performance (and joy) is determined by how your body feels, but even more so, by what happens between your two ears.
Running requires a lot of mental strength.
When you’re injured, you need patience, and a lot of it.
When you run a race and you don’t achieve the result which you expected, you may feel disappointment, as if your body has let you down.
This is strange, because most runners (including myself) are 100% amateurs, and run for fun. There is no money in the game, and our our income does not depend on it.
Where does the pressure come from ? For example, when you don’t feel like running, you have to find out where mr Discipline is hiding, because if you wait too long for your next training session, you need to start from scratch again, and that’s not so much fun, usually.
As such, “discipline” and “fun” are a bit of a chicken / egg problem, which one came first ? From a lexicographical point of view, it’s a draw:
“When somebody asks you “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”, you can question what they mean by chicken and what they mean by egg, but you can’t offer a conclusive lexicographical answer, both date from the Old English period so we’ll call it a draw !” (Source: the Oxford Dictionaries – http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/10/chicken-or-egg)
When discipline is an issue, I hear quite often, “I’m too busy”.
From time to time, I tell that story to myself. Today I read a great quote, i.e. that being too busy does not exist.
I like that idea.
“No one is busy in this world. It’s all about priorities“.
Automatically, the topic of mental strength, brings us to mindfulness.
Great reading, and warmly recommended in this respect: “Running with the mind of Meditation“, by Sakyong Mipham.
All info on: http://runningmind.org/blog.
In short, our thoughts and our restless mind (full of anxiety etc.) can be compared to a wild horse. Our mind needs to tame it. Thought in this respect: “The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness”.
Also, a lot of attention goes to breathing.
This is also pointed out in Runners World’s view on the matter, i.e., in “Four Ways to Build Mental Toughness“:
“The breath is both a release valve and a trigger for your nervous system. When you breathe in a short and hungry way through your mouth, you are telling your body that you are in fight-or-flight mode. On the flip side, when you breathe in through your nose, deeply into your belly, and out through your mouth, this has a calming effect on the body and mind. This kind of breathing takes time and training to learn. Slow your breathing and sync it to your steps while you run.”
To end with, a last piece of advise from the Twitter parody account of Bill Murray, which I liked at lot :
“Always be yourself, unless you can be batman.
Then always be batman.”
And now it’s time to focus on this one!
4 gedachten over “10 Marathons, 10 Lessons Learned, number 8: mental strength”
Great post, thank for for all of the helpful running tips. Mental strength is huge for marathon running! Good luck with your training!
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Thanks !! You too .. !!
ha ha to the Batman quote 😀
And yes I sometimes wonder why we put pressure on ourselves to run a certain distance in a certain time as well. Last wednesday I wanted to break my PR on the half marathon (under 1h40), and while I was doing that and being on schedule I realised I might as well try to achieve it at 13 kph. I ran very focussed and in the end I achieved both, but on the other hand it meant 1h37 of running against the clock and having a look at my wrist every 5 minutes.
Yesterday I did another half marathon and trying to get a new PR, but after a few kilometres I thought that perhaps I should just run at a slower pace and enjoy it more instead of constantly having a look at my wrist 🙂 And in the end the latter felt also very rewarding because I still managed to get it at 12 kph and my legs felt like I just took a walk outside, 🙂 So that gives me quite some confidence for my first marathon in May 2016 (Leiden).
btw great reads!
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