It’s simplistic to think that exercise is all about the body. The simple truth is that most of the work is going on in our heads. Why is exercise such a struggle?
Your body can do this, so why is your brain trying to stop you?
Your mind is in charge of every part of your running or exercise experience. It is your mind that tells your body to move, juggles your emotions and seeks to protect of you – which is why it is so often screaming at you to stop before you start.
Your brain is there to make sure that we don’t do anything that might be too hard for us and it will tell you that it will be better if you don’t run – however knowing that this is what’s going on is half the battle and, using a few simple techniques, you can regain control. Let’s take a look…
The hardest minute you ever run will be your first
Everybody has to start somewhere and a Couch To 5K programme is a great place to start. These programmes build your stamina and endurance up gradually and there will be some runs easier than others, but graduates of these programmes claim that the hardest minute was the first time they had to run for 60 seconds without stopping.
Manipulate your mental focus
Left to its own devices, your mind will throw every reason under the sun to make you stop moving. Distracting your mind by thinking about something else can free your mind from holding you back. Whether it’s what to have for tea or something more thought-provoking, giving your brain something to think about will allow it to let you get moving.
Your conscious mind will be the loudest voice in your head, but you can harness its power with confident thinking. Heading out for a run when you’re not really feeling it will generate a series of negative messages. Your brain will pass these messages on to every part of your body, making it harder to breath and lift your feet. Any niggles will pull you up short and you’ll find yourself throwing in the towel sooner rather than later. Take charge and send positive messages instead – try thoughts like ‘Oh, that feels nice on my calves’, ‘I like the colour of my running tights’, or ‘I can do this and I will’.
Embrace the buzz
Let’s be honest. Life post-exercise is a gorgeous place to be. Everything feels better and you have the buzz that comes from getting your heart pumping. Take time to enjoy this feeling and consciously capture it for future reference. The more often you have this feeling, the easier it is to tap into next time you head out.
Exercise helps us to get in touch with our bodies but we can also learn a lot about our minds. Take control of what’s going on in your head, pull on your trainers and move.