Psychological Challenges

When your body can do it but your mind makes it virtually impossible

14 messages
21/08/2009 at 21:34

Hi Guys

I am looking to the wealth of knowledge that resides in this here forum (!) to help me with a challenge.

I am a fairly average runner - not very fast and I struggle to run any further than 5m (unless I am taking part in a 10k - bizzare?!) - but I believe that this struggle is predominantly a psychological challenge rather than a physical one.

My shins give me a bit of jip and I get tired legs, but if I were to be brutally honest, I'm pretty certain that - with the right mindset - I could run thru the discomfort and do much better with my pace and mileage.  But that is my problem - the mindset!

I use music and I regularly change my route, to prevent boredom (I have a rediculously low attention span!!) but this is no longer doing the trick.  I am considering using audio books to see if that could entertain and distract me whilst I run so that I stop focusing on the uncomfortable niggles and blowing them out of proportion which inevitably results in me not pushing myself, stopping running to walk and generally having a rubbish run.

I have toyed with the idea of hypnotherapy to help retrain my mindset to accept the discomfort, keep me mentally engaged and loving the task that is my run.

Don't get me wrong, I really do LOVE to run but hate to do it badly.  I am an easy giver-upper and need some new strategies to lose this quit-style attitude.

I have no intention of giving up running, but I want to be able to acknowledge and address the running bogeyman thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts that move me on and enable me to progress.

Hope you guys have some pearls of wisdom!!


Hailz x

21/08/2009 at 21:40

Sounds like you're trying all sorts to distract yourself from the actual experience of running...  I doubt that route will help you to learn to enjoy it to be honest. 

Maybe try a different sort of running?  i.e. if you're a road runner, go and hit the trails, woods, cross country etc.

In terms of distance, if you can't get past 5 miles, do a longer out and back route... once you've run "out" for say 3.5 miles you have to get "back".

21/08/2009 at 21:47

Hia Nam,

Its not that I am not enjoying running - I really do and I always feel magic after I've done it.  However, I would love it a whole lot more if I would stop obsessing and fixating - mid run - about my tight calves, jippy shins, wound-up hamstrings, etc.

I am looking for strategies or techniques to focus on other things - not the sore bits - when I am running, so that I can just crack on and enjoy it more.

I like the idea about trails, woods, etc. Will have to research available places in my neck of the woods.  Road running really doesn't help shin splints!

Thanks Nam x

21/08/2009 at 22:10

I have all sorts of mental tricks which I find really helpful training ..although have yet to master the art of using them in races which I need to do.

I don't run fast so can easily switch into a ' meditative ' state and let my mind just wander. I then dip in and out of a mental check of how my body is coping. If I find myself fixating on a sore bit I try to focus instead on a bit of my body that feels really strong, or try just to switch back into letting my mind drift. ..sometimes works !

21/08/2009 at 22:11

sing to yourself....I sometimes have to do that when skiing if I get scared (hate cat-tracks, even though I'm a competent skier and in no real danger).  It's impossible to focus on anything else while singing "heads shoulders knees and toes", YMCA, or the  Lumberjack Song....over and over again.

I think I stop being scared just 'cos I'm so bored with whichever song I'm doing!

BUT....sing in your head unless you want the rest of the world to know exactly how nuts you are

21/08/2009 at 22:17

Believe me I know running in pain is no fun.  Maybe see someone about those shin splints.

Running on softer ground might to you a world of good in more ways than one.

22/08/2009 at 07:09
I love being off road dodging tree roots, small animals and low branches keeps my mind occupied so I don't have time to obsess about aching bits of body.
22/08/2009 at 07:33
Run off road/trails. The only thing i do not look forward to when running is the sections of the flat stuff i have to use to link routes up.
22/08/2009 at 07:45
Why not hit the issue head on?  instead of dreading walking build in walking breaks.  This needs planning tho.  Aim to run for 20 minutes then walk for 4 run another 15 then walk for 4 then another 10 mins will get you home.  When you are walking enjoy the surroundings; when you run enjoy the run.
22/08/2009 at 08:36
Yes, I build in walkbreaks for long minute in every 10. Gives me a chance for a bit of a stretch if I need it, and mentally breaks the running into very manageable chunks but in a planned way.  I feel in control then, rather than walking when I've had enough of running which makes me feel out of control. Agree that an actual injury needs to be looked at though.
22/08/2009 at 08:38
Oh yes.....and I read recently that at the point our minds give up our bodies can usually do the same amount again ! I'm trying to remember that when struggling..although again this does not mean running through real injury of course.
22/08/2009 at 08:44
join a club?
22/08/2009 at 08:47
Join a club or get a running buddy. Make sure they are not heaps better than you because you sound as if fear of failing demotivates you?   Plan routes rather than aimlessly running and definitely do the out and back
23/08/2009 at 21:14

Thanks for all your great advice, Guys - I appreciate it!

 I went out today and actually had a pretty good run - did a few off road bits to ease the pounding and concentrated more on smiling and singing!  (Yes, I did stop when I came close to dog walkers and other members of the public!!).  I also concentrated more on the quality of the run and not so much on the metrics, i.e. happily plodded along at a comfortable pace and didn't try too hard to go faster.  Luckily for me I really like going up hills, so these help  to add the extra workload and effort to the run.

I did go to a club before but felt under pressure to keep up with them - they were all a bit "elite" if you catch my drift.  I may try another, but for now I am quite happy going out by myself with my iPod.  The only time I really like company is when I go to the track, as that is REALLY boring without someone to run with/against.  Sometimes my 9yr old comes with me and he is pretty good company, so that is the best scenario.

You were all so helpful -thanks again!

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