Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Getting (and keeping) your head in the game/run/any old workout

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I've always envied runners and the romance of just one person taking one stride at a time around a track, down a stretch of lakefront or toward the finish. What is most alluring to me as I watch runners from the sidelines is their abililty to tap into some inner drive, to keep going in the rain, in pain and with those horrid blisters that make me wince just to imagine.

What's the secret of keeping on track, both physically and mentally, for really committed runners?

Obviously, a runner must train their body to go, whether for short or long distance. According to some endurance runners, however, the brain game is just as important as the training. This article captures the wisdom of Chicago-area runners who are fully physically and mentally committed to courses that stretch out as long as 50 or 100 miles.

Their tips for tuning in are designed for runners of all levels and distances. And even though my bouts of running have never lasted more than a couple of weeks, this article spoke to me with bits of motivation for how to stay focused in yoga, walking and other work-outs that are more my speed.

Here are few of the seasoned runners tune-in tips:
* Switch up your focus. If you're concentrating hard on your aches and pains, blur that out and take in the scenery. Letting go of the "mechanics" of running and embracing the nature around you and abilities of your body may be distraction enough to get you through a rough patch.

* Don't just learn to live with the discomfort, learn to love it.
This is a tough one, right? Because you clearly want to listen to your body tell you when its had enough. For the aches that aren't body-damaging, though, some runners say that the key is to embrace your body (rather than curse it) as it stretches past the comfort zone.

* Believe you can. Don't stress yourself with negative talk. Instead expect that you will accomplish your goals for that run (or as the case may be, for your class or workout). Giving yourself simple, controllable goals, like keeping well hydrated or making it to one water station and then another and then another, will help you feel a sense of accomplishment rather than set in an "all or nothing" attitude that's hard to overcome.

No matter how you're staying fit -- from long run to short swim to deep stretching -- some mental shifting might just take you from sprint to the distance.

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