We’ve all been there. You are midway through an interval, workout, or run and suddenly your thoughts start running wild. You begin to doubt your mind and body and if you don’t snap yourself out of these negative internal thoughts, it becomes hard to push yourself and in the worse-case-scenario, you drop out before the end of your intended session.
What I’ve found to be the most interesting part of becoming a coach at Mile High Run Club is that I have had to learn cues to snap my runners out of these mental downward spirals. Of course, a simple positive cheer can help many people blow through those proverbial “yellow lights” to regain an uninterrupted mental focus, but sometimes it takes more than that.
As a coach, I’ve learned that physical cues are the most helpful in relaxing our minds and bodies, and therefore getting us to push through rough points. By giving your mind a chance to focus on and take control of something else, we leave behind the more abstract concepts of how you feel in a given moment and instead focus on a very physical feeling. For example, as soon as a workout gets tough, a good cue is to make sure you relax your face and drop your shoulders. Often, people will carry their stress in these areas, so allowing our bodies to relax can loosen the mind as well.
Other useful cues may be more form-specific, such as working to lift your knees, kick your heels back, or swing your arms. These thoughts don’t need to trigger a change in movement to still be helpful. Instead, they can distract your mind by breaking the run down to the basics. By focusing on your physical movement and how to literally run, we take up the mental space that was used before to worry and doubt and therefore push out these unhelpful thoughts.
There are so many tips and tricks on how to break out of a mental lull in training, so on your next run try some out! The first step is noticing when these doubts come up, then try to simply pause mentally and be aware of the moment. Then try one of these physical cues and see what helps pull you out of your mental misstep. As with everything in training, practice makes perfect, so don’t fear these mental slip-ups… it happens to everyone! Instead, acknowledge the moments doubt does start to creep in and try to use these tips to break up those thought patterns.