“Believe you can do it. Think no other way but ‘Yes you can.’ The human body is capable of considerably more physical endurance than most of us realize.” -Paul Reese, ex-United States Marine Corps Colonel and Running Legend
Often we overlook the mental aspect of running. Certainly, the physical aspect is important, as it is
your lungs, heart and legs that carries you through everything from a short 2.4 kilometre run to a full marathon. But your mind is perhaps the most essential to keeping you going.
Consider this: How are elite athletes able to run amazingly fast times for a marathon with bodies that look frail and skinny to the common eye? There is clearly more than just limbs and bodies doing the work in any form of running.
Mental Toughness is really at work here. To me, it is simply the ability to block out physical strain and tiredness, to go beyond the mental threshold of wanting to stop.
We all have moments where mental toughness has waned for us. Every single one of us has told ourselves to stop before the designated distances we have laid for ourselves, eventually saying that our bodies won’t be able to take the strain if we go all the way. But that’s really a cop-out, excuses we give ourselves so we wouldn’t have to do any more physical work.
That doesn’t mean we should ignore pain that is clearly not normal. That would be setting yourself up for potentially irreversible injuries along the way. That’s a clear No-No in my book, but that’s not the kind of mental toughness that we are talking about.
It really requires a ton of practice
Personally, I think Mental Toughness is really linked to every aspect of one’s life. Almost every difficult task or obstacle in life requires some perseverance to get through it, and perseverance predominantly resides in the mind.
Interestingly, no one is really gifted with a special insensitivity to pain, even elite athletes. Everyone hurts just the same. But it really takes a tremendous amount of training to cultivate great pain tolerance. It is then with this pain tolerance that help us push through the excuses holding us back from completing the distances we have set for ourselves.
Here is how you can really practice your mental endurances:
Make it a incremental, regular effort
Whoever said “Rome wasn’t built in a day” touched on an especially relevant truth. Rarely is anything ever worth accomplishing done in a single moment but over a process of honing and constructing. So if you want to run longer distances, all you really have to do is to run often, and with increasing distances every single time.
Concurrently, improve the pace and timing in which you are completing these distances. For example, if you took 12 mins to complete a 2.4 kilometre distance on a certain day, you would simply improve your mental endurance by aiming for 11 mins over the same distance. Even if you fail to meet that goal, you are automatically conditioning your mind to push beyond the physical strain when you go for faster speed.
Also, once in awhile, go for a unusually longer distance you wouldn’t ordinarily go for. This way you are giving your mind the mental exercise it needs so you would no longer be intimidated by shorter distances. Just remember to continually monitor for pains that are outside the normal range.
The reward is indeed worthwhile
*Image from Contentinjection.com
Running, whether it be for leisure or for competition, has its health benefits. And now you would most certainly reap the benefits from your running in your mental attributes as well, concentration, endurance, patience, etc. So keep working on it! You will soon feel more energized, more focused and happy, while meeting the more practical requirements, goals and times you have set for yourself in your running!
Guest writer: Jeremy is a running convert, and ran his first marathon this year! He is also a tech addict and a resident writer at ShopBack.