Balancing the Scale

Posted: December 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Preparing for a run should begin long before your take your first step!  You need to have eaten well, be well hydrated, dressed properly and mentally prepared.  How many times have you surrendered to the reality that the first mile or two are going to be nothing short of absolute misery?

That is a self-fulfilling prophecy that you have the ability to change and control.  I won’t deny that the first mile or two will likely be the most challenging and least enjoyable.  But you can slow your pace by 1-2 minutes per mile than you expect to average for the remaining miles of your run and allow your body to acclimate to the rigors of running.  Your heart needs time to pump blood to your major muscles in an effort to fully oxygenate your body.

Your mental preparation also plays an integral role in staying focused in these early miles and setting the stage for an enjoyable run.  When the ‘demons of doubt’ start to dominate your thoughts you have to fight them off by reminding yourself how fortunate you are to be running at all.  And how wonderful the balance of your day will be because  the sense of accomplishment that you feel as well as the physical and mental dividends you will reap are considerable.

I try to begin each run with confidence and not with the attitude of ‘I cannot wait to have this run over!’  There are two vital ingredients in this process.   I embrace the reality that my mental focus has to be rock solid in the first two miles so I remove all doubt and negative thoughts and focus completely on all the benefits of running.  Secondly, I try to remain smooth and efficient throughout my run.

Running should be a rhythmic activity and certainly doesn’t need to be an act of punishment.  I take short efficient steps at a stride rate of 180 steps per minute.  Imagine a little old grandmother running across a frozen lake.  She takes little short steps so that she doesn’t slip.  Yes, I could have used a ‘little old grandfather’ but I envision someone falling!  I make sure that my feet are landing exactly where I want them to (i.e., midfoot) and I’m rolling though my gait cycle as efficiently as possible.  My breathing is relaxed and I pretend that I am holding a butterfly in each hand…I don’t want to hurt them.  I also envision I having ropes on either side of my body and I am simply reaching for them and pulling myself forward.

The key is to remain completely relaxed and efficient, particularly in the beginning of each run and at the end when I am most tired.  I envision being a pilot and constantly going through a mental checklist (e.g., good attitude, smooth and efficient form, protecting the butterflies with relaxed hands, reaching and pulling with the ropes, short strides, etc.) and before I know it I’m enjoying the closing miles of my run.

You can also get more enjoyment from your running if you’re successful at balancing the all important scale of mental and physical preparation!

Great Running!

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