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Tips to Stay Focused on Long Runs ... And Pandemics

November 24, 2020

Tips to Stay Focused on Long Runs ... And Pandemics

We're all on a long run right now. This pandemic has put us in a collective state of pacing ourselves, whether we like it or not. Some of us, understandably, just don't want to go any further. Others have been trying to keep our heads down and push forward. It's not much different than doing a distance workout or long race. In both cases, there is a finish line, which we want to reach. There is always a finish line ... and it's in sight.

Being a long-distance runner has taught me that my body and mind don't always agree. But my mind can train my body to go the distance. And that training can be learned through a few tips I use when I'm doing something over a long haul that seems repetitive.

Long Distance Tips

Be Thankful

Normally, I wouldn't put this one first, but with what we're going through, I think it's important to start with this thought. 

Nobody forces you to run. You run because you get joy from it, even when you feel like you can't take that first step. So, when you run, be happy. Be glad you can do this with all that's going on around you. Be grateful that you have your health. And be thankful you have the opportunity to lace up and experience the beauty and benefits of movement.

Use a Mantra

As you grit your way through a workout or race, a mantra can be a way to remind you to stay loose and calm. It can bring you into the present and create a better headspace. Repeat this calming phrase to yourself as you evaluate your body from head to toe. You may already have a favorite phrase to use as a mantra, but if you don't have one, check out these sample running mantras and marathon quotes for some inspiration. In either case, choose something that is meaningful to you.

Do Some Self-Talking

Basically, this a pep talk and it's different than a mantra. It's a way to cheer yourself on when the going gets tough. Instead of telling yourself “I got this,” try “you got this.” According to a recent study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, athletes who talked to themselves in the second person were faster and generated more power.

Have a Plan

Plans can create accountability and provide strategies when things become too challenging. Maybe the monotony from the pace is getting to you – so now the plan is to add a little speed to the run. Writing some of these strategies down can take the worry out of wondering what you'll do if something happens. It's also not a bad idea to prepare a post-run plan, like what are you going to eat, which stretching exercises are you going to do, or how long are you going to soak in the that hot tub.

Set a Target

Similar to the Plan, it helps you get to the finish line. Whether you're out for a run on the road or pounding away on a treadmill, pushing yourself to various target points – that tree in the distance or the next mile – can help you move faster and reduce your exertion levels, according to a study in the journal Motivation and Emotion. Breaking your distance down into smaller pieces tricks your mind into believing it doesn’t feel so hard to run for so long.

These tips can be applied to the distance we need to go to beat this pandemic. Look at how far we've come already. The news is hopeful for the future. We've gone from not knowing when it could end to seeing a finish line perhaps only months away. We can do this.

More importantly, you can do this.