Knocking Down the Mental Blockade

By Elizabeth Jenkins

In case no one told you, running is mostly a mental sport. Those who can push through the pain and self doubt are the ones who bring home the medals. Even the fittest runners get thoughts to just stop, turn around early or walk the rest of the way. The way to win the game is to not let these thoughts turn into actions. Winning the mental game on a 5 mile training run is as rewarding as winning a 5 mile race. Here are some tips and new things to try to overcome the debilitating voices and push through to becoming a well oiled mental and physical machine.

  1. Do not map out a route, just run. Turn where you would normally go straight. Go straight where you would normally turn.
  2. Be a scavenger and look for something interesting on your run. I had a friend who would find something new on every run. Once she found an iPod. Go out with an obscure goal of something to find like a green pen, or an abandoned toilet.
  3. For a whole week, run in places you have never run before. Here in Utah, there are lots of great places to explore. Check out Wheeler Farm, Legacy Parkway Trail, Jordan River Trail, or just drive to a neighborhood you have never been to and see what you find.
  4. Make a new playlist for your iPod with songs that pump you up. Here is a list of some of our favorite songs: 100 Best songs to run to.
  5. Come up with a power phrase to recite in your mind when you are feeling like you want to give up. Mine are “I have felt worse pain than this before” and “6-pack, 6-pack, 6-pack” Reciting in your mind your goal, or something that helps you put into perspective what you are feeling will help you to keep focused.
  6. Try and spell words with letters you see on signs, license plates, etc.
  7. Run with someone who is faster.
  8. Set a goal and come up with a reward for accomplishing that goal. When you want to quit, think about the reward you will lose, and keep going. This is how I treated myself to Uggs…I know what you are thinking…but have you worn them!?
  9. Switch it up and head out to the trails for a beautiful Utah trail run. We are so fortunate to have so many trails nearby. Take advantage of the change of pace, scenery, and surfaces!
  10. Plan in your mind what you will eat when you get home from your run. I usually run-dream about eating meat when I get done with my run. Meat is by far my most favorite animal by-product.
  11. Make up stories about the people who live in the houses you pass. Then knock in the door and see how accurate you were…ok, that second part was a joke.

I’m sure everyone has lots of different ways to break through the mental blockade we place in front of our goals. The goal is to find what works for us as individuals and take down anything in our path that seeks to take away any amount of success from us. Just remember, “6-pack, 6-pack 6-pack!”

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