The mind is a funny thing…
I think it’s common for us as runners to focus on the physical side of our sport.
Obviously, running is a physical sport.
But too often we, or at least I, overlook the mental aspect of our sport.
Perhaps we’d be wise to pay a bit more attention to the roll our brains play in our training and racing…
The Mental Finish Line
The finish line is a physical thing.
But it’s a mental thing too.
I don’t care how long a race is, none of us get to the end of a race where we are really pushing ourselves to the limit and feel like we could keep going for another few hundred yards, let alone another few miles (or more).
But is the reason that we don’t think we can go any farther because our bodies are completely spent or because our mind was prepared to go from the start line to the finish line and not another step farther?
According to science, and you know I love me some science, our minds are almost always our limiting factor.
To put it another way, our brains shut us down before our bodies do.
What does that mean for race day?
Well, to put it simply, we go into a race planning to go a certain distance and that’s it.
When we get to the finish line, we can’t go any farther not because our legs are shot but because we are only prepared mentally to run the specific race distance.
That’s the mental finish line, but it’s not just a race day thing either…
My Long Run Struggles are Almost All Mental
I’ve made no secret that I struggle with my mental game on occasion.
I feel like I’m getting better on that front on race day, but recently I’ve been struggling a little bit in my training.
Specifically when it comes to my long runs.
As near as I can tell, I’m setting my mental finish line shorter than I should.
In other words, I’m preparing mentally for a 5k but then trying to run a 10k.
When I go out for my long runs lately, I’ve been giving myself a window as far as the distance I’m wanting to go for the day.
Typically? Said window is 12-15 miles.
Now, if I start the day saying that I’m going to get to 15 for sure I have basically no issue getting all 15 miles in.
But if I allow myself to say I’ll be happy with anything beyond 12, I’m mentally making 12 miles my finish line.
And guess what happens when I get to 12 miles?
I’m spent. It feels like I have zero gas left in the tank because my mind is telling me I reached the finish line.
But if my mind was cool with going 15 miles that day?
I guarantee I’d have no problem going the extra few miles.
That’s how powerful our minds are.
Set Yourself Up for Success
If you can relate, allow me to offer you a suggestion: stop giving yourself wiggle room in terms of how far you’re going on your next run.
Set a target distance, whatever it may be, and stick with it.
(Obvious caveat, if something is legit wrong cutting your run short is the right choice!)
Don’t make things harder for yourself than they have to be by creating a mental finish line that is shorter than the distance you’d really like to run.
If you do that? You’re going to take the easy out almost every time.
Your mind is powerful. Trying to fight against your own mind?
Stop giving your mind the opportunity to create an early finish line.
Set your mind on how far you want to go, and you’ll be amazed how much easier it is to go the distance!
How Do You Set Yourself Up for Success Mentally?
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