For today’s post, I thought I’d get into your head! After all, as runners, we hang out in our own minds quite often. We choose to run for countless reasons. But one trait that we almost all share is that we use the activity of running to drown out the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The ability to focus on our thoughts comes naturally for some more than others. What did you think about on your run today? See what I mean?
There are several books on this subject. One of my favorites isn’t even directed at runners specifically. But like the activity of running, is very ubiquitous. That book is “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself.” I first read this three years ago and still review it often. I believe that I was able to harness the techniques in this book much easier because I was already comfortable being in my own mind. Another book, focused on runners is called “The Runner’s Brain.” Excellent read!
One of the most useful, and important, benefits of tuning into our thoughts, is directing our bodies to move efficiently and fluidly. For example, if we can focus on maintaining better running posture, controlling our breathing and pace, we’re more likely to have a better run!
If you struggle with quieting your mind when running, try the following:
- Run without music. Without music to process, our minds are more available to process our thoughts, (whatever they may be.) As with most things, you must be intentional about your thoughts and even practicing this. Before your run, decide what you want to think about or even dream about. I can confirm from personal experience, this works!
- Run while listening to an audiobook or podcast. These tools help to channel your mind to a given topic or book. This can be helpful to do before going completely audio free.
- Visualize! For runners, this is helpful on two fronts. First, you can prepare for a race by seeing photos or video of your next course, then playing them back in your mind on your run. I did exactly this in preparation for the 2016 Big Sur Marathon; worked like a charm to stay engaged with my training runs! Secondly, you can visualize yourself at various stages of your race.