Developing a Long Distance Running Mindset
By Sofia Alves
Running is a great form of exercise that comes with a lot of health benefits. Long distance running, on the other hand, may seem quite scary, especially if you have not done it before. Knowing very well that our biggest battles are those we face in our mind, it is important to develop a long distance running mindset while running.
Benefits of Long Distance Running
It will be nice to know the benefits of long distance running so that you can be encouraged to develop your mind accordingly. Some of these benefits include:
- Long distance running will boost your mood
- It helps the body function more efficiently
- It helps burn calories, thereby keeping you slim and fit
- It will make you smarter by improving your memory and helping you think clearly
- It helps strengthen the knees, thereby preventing knee injuries
- It ensures better life expectancy
- Your hormones will be improved.
Developing a Long Distance Running Mindset
The mind is the most powerful tool we have, and the body is going to run just as far as the mind allows it. It takes being mentally tough to tackle whatever lies ahead of you. This mental toughness is needful in every area of life. As a matter of fact, you cannot achieve anything in life without being tough mentally. Getting prepared for long distance running begins with your mind.
- Accept change. Change is a way of life and every life form undergoes change at some point. Going on long distance running requires that you change from within. Running a long distance involves a lot of changes. You will have to change your diet, form, running gear, training hours, and even your mindset. Additionally, you have to keep pushing yourself forward even when your body is screaming for you to stop. Get rid of self-doubts and discover the part of you that has no limitations. Know the changes you have to make, and make them.
- Run slower. Running does not always have to be as fast as possible. Even if you are capable of running faster, try to reduce your pace by a minute or two for each mile. Slowing down will help you avoid injuries and also reduce the tension. It is also believed that running slower gives you time to self-motivate yourself while running. Keep your pace slow and conversational, especially if you are running alone. Pep talking and use of mantras can serve as ways to motivate yourself while running slowly.
- Mid-run fueling. You will need to increase your water intake as a runner. It is important that you stay hydrated so you will not feel faint. Put your water either in a hydration back pack or a bottle so you can take it from time to time while running. You will also need to increase your carb intake so as to provide your body with much-needed energy. Whatever you can take that is good for your stomach and you can use to complete the run is acceptable. Ensure that you perfect your meal before the long run, and replicate it on race day.
- Face your fears. Fear could stem from self-doubt or other forms of limitation. Whatever they may be, you have to learn to face them. Your mind will become fragile if you try to run away from your fears. To strengthen your mind and build your mental muscles, you have to overcome your fear. Showing up to the starting line is the first step to facing your fears. Embracing your fears and facing them will help you develop a long distance running mindset.
- Run despite the excuses. There are many excuses people come up with just to avoid running long distances. Some people use their age, weight, busy schedules, and whatever excuses they can come up with just to avoid participating in a long distance race. Excuses will stop you from achieving your running goals. Develop your mind to the extent that when excuses pop up, your mind will squash them.
- Use failure to educate yourself. Running long distance requires you to believe in yourself. You have to change the way you see failure. See every shortcoming or failure as a lesson learnt. If you try to run a long distance but only stop half-way through, put in mind the factors that limited your success so you can educate yourself accordingly. Train your mind not to quit because a failed attempt shows you one way that does not work. Make adjustments if you have to, but do not quit. Whenever you resist the urge to quit, you strengthen your long distance running mindset. The truth is that, if you go through life without failing, you have gone through life without living.
- Hardwire your brain using repetition. Repetition has been known to strengthen the mind. The brain, being more malleable than initially thought, has neurological connections that are strengthened when you perform the same act repeatedly. As your physical stamina grows, your mental stamina also grows simultaneously. The more you practice long distance running, the more your body and mind endure and adjust to it.
- Propel yourself with a goal. Have a set goal while going on a long distance run, and ensure you propel yourself towards it. You will not find meaning to your life if you do not have a goal. Instead of running aimlessly, set a target (like the finish line) to monitor your progress and give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Grow patiently. Developing a long distance runner’s mind does not happen overnight. Usually, it takes time and deliberate effort to become a long distance runner. Dispel all negative thoughts and concentrate on increasing your endurance level.
- Post-run plans and recovery. Do not underestimate the importance of eating soon after your long distance running. Your body will need energy to recover and prepare for the next run. Ensure that your meal is well-balanced in order to ensure full recovery. More so, you should ponder on basic things you will have to do after the run. This gives you something to look forward to while you run.
- Visualize your race. To be able to successfully engage in a long distance race, you need to picture yourself actually running the course. Visualize about every mile, and how you will look crossing the finish line. Think of your loved ones cheering you on and how they will feel watching you receive a medal. Having these images in your head will definitely help develop your long distance running mindset.
Apart from being a physical test of strength and fitness, long distance running, is also a mental battle. Long runs are a vital part of most of the training plans for runners. Their main benefits are to increase your aerobic endurance and stamina. The key is to begin! Equipped with this article, all you need to do is get out of bed, put on your running kit, and run to the finish line!