Today we have a guest blogger, Caroline, who submitted a great article on how to stay positive when the running gets rough. Please understand, it will get rough, so you might as well adopt a mindset to deal with this stuff.
If I could add three things to this excellent article.
Your goal should be the thing that drives you everyday to put in your work.
If it doesn’t, you may need to alter the goal so it does. I wish I could tell you what that is but it is different for everyone.
When the going gets tough, break things down into small increments.
I have broken down in races to the point where I am trying to run to the next telephone pole. Once you get there, pick another target. If a mile is 5280 feet, all you have to do is run 10 feet at a time. I like the idea of a mile at a time but don’t be afraid to break it down even further. It works.
Injuries, Injuries, Injuries
We all get them and I think it is important to mention that injuries are almost always a result of poor body mechanics over time. So if you have to take it easy for a few days, what better time than to try and figure out what happened. You can also start working on foam rolling, compression and other forms of rehab. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, use the time to get better.
Thank you again Caroline for your article. If anyone else wants to contribute, get in touch with me and we will figure it out.
How to Stay Positive When the Running Gets Rough
Running isn’t all sunshine and smooth pavement. While almost any long-term runner will tell you about their triumphs and successes, not so many will tell you about the bumps in the road. Some goals might frighten you. That’s ok. Challenges are part of growth, and getting through times where your motivation wavers will only make you stronger in the long run.
Yet to get through, you might need help or a strategy. This is why we’re here. Consider the following if you find your dedication waning:
See Your Goal and Never Waver
How many times have you told yourself “just one more mile” as you were nearing the end of your run? After that, how many times did you go that extra mile? I imagine quite a few.
The goals you set for yourself are meaningful and important. Visualizing yourself triumphant over whatever you were going up against is one of the best motivators for an athlete, and that determination can clear your mind of any negative thoughts that might make you stop running for the day (or completely).
This is especially important for those who are new to running or who are trying to get back into it after a long break. Once you stick to a goal for a few weeks, it will get easier, and you will be able to think of running as a great part of your morning routine (maybe you can replace coffee with it).
Make the Most of Distractions
Running in a sound void early in the morning can be calming to some or creepy and boring to others. For those in the latter category (myself included), some steady earbuds and a smartphone might make all the difference. You’ll want to find something that works for you, but you might want to try the following:
* Music is an obvious and common choice, and with the advent of internet radio and services such as Spotify and Google Music, you can get whatever tunes you want. You can also, of course, create your own running playlist to keep you going. Also, studies show some music improves your performance.
* Podcasts or audio-only versions of your favorite video series might also work, especially if they are workout-related or you don’t have to focus on it too much (I wouldn’t recommend audiobooks for running).
* If you don’t like the idea of using headphones, pay extra attention to your surroundings. Instead of thinking about the pain, think about the community around you and how it’s changing. Look at the gardens and front lawns of your neighbors—whatever attracts your attention.
If you’re going to be using your phone for your distraction, I would recommend a belt or armband to keep your device in place as well as some earbuds designed for running. You also might want to adjust your settings so that you can change what you’re listening to with a few touches. It might also be a good idea to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your connection, which helps keeps any personal information safe.
Use Your Community
If you surround yourself with positive people, their positivity will influence you. Unless you try extremely hard (and I don’t know why you would), your mood will be buffered by those of your fellow runners. Accountability is a huge part of staying focused and on track, and being part of a running group or community, even if it’s just online, can make the difference between staying positive and giving up.
Only you will know the best community for your needs, but try to consider running groups in your town first. Alternatively, see if there are other fitness-minded individuals among your friends and look for ways to sync up your schedules.
Always Stay Moving
Of all the things that can happen to you as a runner, an injury is probably the most demoralizing. No matter how careful you are, you will still likely suffer an injury at some point. You will need to stay cooped up in the house (or at least relatively sedentary) for several weeks, which can be particularly frustrating on warm, sunny days.
To this I say two things:
* You might not be able to run or move around, but your doctors (probably) said nothing about going outside. Spend some time in the sunlight to keep serotonin levels up. Read a book on the porch, or take a calm walk in the park. Whatever keeps you outside, get to it!
* If it’s just a leg-related injury, there are other ways to keep yourself active. Tell your doctor you’re an active person and ask about what exercises and activities you can still do. If you see a trainer or also go to a gym, the professionals there also will be able to help you. In fact, they’ll be delighted to!
This also counts for those terrible days where you just can’t get outside. While you might not get the exact runner’s high you’re looking for, you will be able to get your blood moving and keep your body used to exercise, which is half the battle.
Whatever has got you down, don’t let it get you out. Your mindset is half the fight when your feet hit the ground, and a positive and confident attitude is your best defense. Do what you need to so that your fitness doesn’t suffer. You can do it!
About the Author:
Caroline is a lifelong runner who writes about both health and technology topics on a regular basis. She’s seen her share of ups and downs and hopes that these ideas let you keep your mindset above your struggles.