I can do this…
What is it about the first mile (or three) of every run? My body just doesn’t know what it’s doing and I’m convinced that I can’t run. In my head, all I can think is, “what am I doing? I’m not a runner?”.
There are also several (sometimes several thousand) times during my run where I’ll think I can’t — I’ve gotta quit — I’m too hot/tired/sore/fat/lame/etc… to finish this workout.
I literally have to shake the negative thoughts from my head, shoulders, and out my arms — it’s a ritual now — and replace them with positive thoughts. My go to mantra is “I can do this!” Sometimes I scream, “I CAN DO THIS!” in my head. Sometimes I mumble, “I can do this, I can do anything, I can do this, I can do anything” in sync with my cadence.
This mental block is more and more burdensome as my training distances become longer. The more miles I rack up, the longer I’m trapped inside my own mind on the road/treadmill. In researching this, I find that I’m not alone. This website/blog post lists TONS of mantras including:
- “A Hero Holds On One Minute Longer…”
- “A Winner Never Quits And A Quitter Never Wins….”
- “All Walls Have Doors…”
- “Better. Faster. Stronger…”
- “Boom Chuggah Luggah Luggah…”
- “Come What May, I Will Run…”
- “Every Mile Is The Marathon…”
- “Extend Yourself…”
- “Failure Is Not An Option…”
- “Feet Fast, Legs Strong, I Can Do This All Day Long…”
- “Finish Strong…”
- “Focus…Form…Flow… ”
- “Form First, Speed Will Follow…”
- “Give Me Strength…”
- “Go Faster…”
- “Harder… Faster ….. Better ….. Stronger!!”
- “Hills Are My Friend…”
- “I Am Because I Run, I Run Because I Am…”
- “I Am Strong!…”
- “I Am Strong, I Run My Race!…”
- “I Am Tough… I Am Strong… I Am Healthy… I Am Awesome… I Love To Run…”
- “I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me…”
- “They Can’t Be Feeling That Much Better Than I Am Right Now…”
- “This Hill Is Mine …”
- “This Is Exactly Where I Want To Be…”
- “This Too Shall Pass…”
- “Thoughts Become Things, I Am A Winner!…”
- “Today, Define Yourself”
- “Trust Your Training…”
- “When You Run, You Will Not Stumble…”
- “Work It, Do It, Makes Us Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger…”
- “You Are Only Limited By Yourself…”
Besides repeating mantras, it’s sometimes helpful to think of other things besides the fact that I’m running ___ miles. For this, some mental tricks help. Here are my favorites:
- Think through the plot of a book you’ve read recently. Try to think it through with as many details from beginning to end
- Mentally re-watch a movie/tv show that you love
- Do some mental math! I love this one!!! (Count backwards from 2500 by sevens… Square primes in order… Multiply pi!)
- Have a karaoke party — works best on lonely roads — load your playlist with karaoke hits!
- Consider your scenery — how would you paint it? (Watching reruns of the Joy of Painting helps with this).
- Play “remember when” — recall when you weren’t as strong or as able to run as far… Bask in the glow of your accomplishments OR remember a fun story from your childhood — when you finish your run call your mom/dad/sibling and reminisce together. (I started this by trying to remember each of my elementary school teachers… so many stories bubbled up)
- Mental scavenger Hunt!
- Alphabet game — see if you can spot things along your route that’ll get you through the whole alphabet!
- Total body check — Check in with your body inch by inch. I usually start with my feet — How’s my stride, strike, turnover? Then move up to legs, hips, waist, etc… ending with my head to make sure I’m not holding a bad form.
Do you use a running mantra?
What mental tricks do you use?
How do you get through the long runs?