Exploring the Mindset of a Distance Runner

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dsc01296-smQuite often people tell me I’m crazy. This usually occurs after I mention how early I dragged myself out of bed on a Saturday morning, even in the rain, to log 16-20+ mile runs. Sometime the “you’re crazy” is accompanied by a beyond shocked facial expression. This usually occurs after I say something like “I just did an easy 14.” Finally I’ll get the more constructive question of “How do you do that?” Plain and simply I will respond “It’s fun and because I can!”

I was never a natural runner, and there were periods in my life where I truly disliked the thought of running unless it was part of another sporting endeavor. Three years ago my addiction to running began as it became one of my few sport options due to shoulder injury. It took a lot of self-talk in the beginning. At the time, my motivational self-talk revolved around my fear that my wedding dress was being stored over 2000 miles away until the big day. Talking to other brides I heard that running was the key. Call it superficial, but whatever your motivation is to get moving EMBRACE IT!

After a few weeks, I decided to race my first 5k. As I crossed the finish-line my motivating factors changed. I loved the adrenaline rush and the feeling of freedom. I loved how my performance was dependent upon my effort and my only true opponent was myself. 

Eventually I decided to take on the marathon. Again, I relied heavily on self-talk. The longer you run, the more time you have to think. Thinking can be your best friend or your worst enemy! With each long run I strive to fine-tune my inner dialogue. I’ve learned to stop the pesky automatic thoughts trying to bring my run down so I can refocus my energy on my most current set of motivating factors. This is an ever-evolving process that affects both professional and recreational athletes the same. This article about
Kara Goucher is a great example of the mental challenges faced in running.

Have you identified your most current set of motivating factors? How do these relate to your self-talk? How do your motivating factors and self-talk affect your athletic endeavors? Unsure…this is definitely something you can explore with one of the Sport Psychology Institute Northwest Consultants.

About the Author: Lisa Peetz received an M.A. in Sports and Exercise Psychology.  Lisa is an avid runner who appreciates and is addicted to marathon running.  She uses her athletic experience in her mental skills training by individualizing skills to be both sports and life specific.

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