Running Better Without Your Head: Without that mind getting in your way you could be running faster

“Off with her head!” the Red Queen shouted. Which begged me to question, “Would I actually run better sans my head?”

fork running

He's running without a head! 😉

Bear with my train of thought for just a moment, outside of losing those 8 pounds of noggin and getting a lower racing weight, I will go out on a limb and say that there are some athletes who would run better without that pesky mind of theirs. Sometimes if you want to run better or get something done you need to just, well, go ‘off with your head.’

In previous posts I’ve covered how important getting your mind in check is when it comes to running, training and racing. I’ve covered visualization to improve your performance by harnessing some of that mental energy as well as means to quell pre-race nerves. Today’s will be different because it’s actually about disconnecting from your mind. Don’t worry I won’t drag out the guillotine.

“I’m here so that you don’t have to do any of the thinking, just focus on the running,” this is something a coach once said and if you’ve found a trustworthy and reliable coach I tend to agree with the statement. Of course it’s important to pick the right coach, but once you do it’s about trust and putting the reins in their hands. That way you can tune-out your brain.

* Don’t question: Some athletes play the ‘why’ game so much that they never are able to put faith in the training and program they are doing. “Why am I doing this workout?”, “Why is he having me do this, so-and-so does this instead?”, “Why can’t I just do 4 repeats and not 5?”, “Why can’t I do 10 repeats instead of 5?” and so on. Your mind can play the ‘why’ game forever and when you do that you can’t establish trust, then confidence in your training and ultimately YOURSELF. When you don’t have confidence in yourself, come race day you should be nervous.
* Don’t negotiate: When you’re in the middle of a workout, or a run for that matter, it’s going to hit a point where it hurts. Your brain will start to negotiate with you, “Maybe this pace is too fast, let’s slow it down”, “Maybe I can’t really do all the repeats, maybe I’ll stop now.” Let’s be honest, your mind will search for any excuse, but if you go in with the mentality that you TRUST your training program, your coach if you have one, then your approach shouldn’t be one with any room for doubts. It’s not a question of IF you will be able to do the workout, it’s a GIVEN that you’re capable of it. Now, you may not actually physically be able to hit the paces sometimes, that happens, but there needs to be a SHIFT in your thought process at the start. Your brain is taken out of the equation…you are supplied the given workout and your legs get to running.

* Just function: As just explained above, to a degree, some of the best athletes just function as droids. They aren’t the ones coming up with the workouts, they don’t have to obsess and worry about what they should be doing; that frees up a LOT of extra mind energy. That energy then is able to be focused and channelled into actually DOING what they set out to achieve. Not all of us are blessed to be in that position, and I know plenty people don’t have coaches at all. Still though, you can adapt the philosophy to your situation. Plan ahead: as in if you have a race planned to run, work backwards and set up your training weeks in advance. Nothing is set in stone, but limit how much adapting you do. If you have a full season of workouts planned, allow yourself to reassess the upcoming week’s training on Sunday night but from there try not to do much adjusting to the plan. Wake up that day, see the workout, and let your body get to work.

It’s impossible to tune-out your mind completely and you wouldn’t want to do that totally of course. Though over-thinking gets in the way of many a talented runner; because ultimately it never gets them to a point where they can establish TRUST in their training, FAITH that they are capable of achieving their goals, or CONFIDENCE in themselves.

So, what do you think, do you think you’d jump on the Red Queen’s proposition?? 😉

1) How do you approach your own training? Do you create your own training, do you just come up with the day’s run on the spot, are you part of a team?

2) If you have a coach, how did you connect with them? Are you able to put full trust and training duties in their hands or do you tend to play the ‘why’ game a lot?

3) What does the idea of dissociating from your mind translate to you? Do you think there is a way you can incorporate the idea into your own training to improve your running?

4) Do you wonder how I thought up this lopping off your head business?
Well, I was watching on drool-worthy Johnny Depp in the latest Alice in Wonderland during my treadmill run. 😉

Bookmark and Share

Related posts:

12 thoughts on “Running Better Without Your Head: Without that mind getting in your way you could be running faster

  1. Sometimes its good for me to be processing and thinking throughout a run. SOmetimes i am in a really good strong state of mind. i would say that was almost always the case last year. this year i think i struggle, doubt and overthink more so i definitely would like to just leave my mind behind at times;) i think the most important for me right now is to find a balance. i need to get better at NOT compromising when things get “too” hard in my mind but I also need to relearn being strong mentally.

    LOVE that you got the idea from watching Johnny Depp in Alice in Wonderland! haha! have a great day!

    • u’re finding that fierce competitor in u, girl, she was never gone i’ve seen/read about some of ur recent runs! 😉 oh and johnny depp steals my heart in anything and everything!

  2. My “RC” (running coach) comes up with my training schedule and I don’t question it. Sometimes I like to know the “why” behind what is chosen, but I don’t 2nd guess her. I trust her.

    In competition, I do a lot better when I’m almost thoughtless. Thoughts float in and out of my brain, yet I’m focused on what I’m doing. A sports psych (for tennis) once described to me that my competition mindset should be my “accepting” mindset where I took what was happening and was ok with it and moved onto the next thing (makes a better correlation with tennis, points, sets, etc). My practice mindset was allowed to be critical, get mad, etc.

    One of the hardest things for me in running right now is being impatient with progress. I wanted to be running “xx:xx” pace yesterday. I sometimes forget that although sometimes you get a huge jump of improvement, usually it is just chipping away little by little.

    • keep chipping away, u’ve got it pegged: patience. in the end consistency is wat will get u faster in the long term and by NOT rushing things u’ll be healthy enough to keep up the training. so keep looking long term, but i know how hard that can be!! so take ANY bit of progress and smile. 🙂 hopefully i don’t sound TOO corny…lol. oh and as for the ‘why’ thing, it’s awesome to inquisitively ask for the reasoning behind things so u can learn about things, that’s cool and should be done. 🙂

  3. I love this! It’s so appropriate for today, as I was talking to a girl last night about not letting her mind mentally defeat her. I think I might see about emailing her this post, actually.

    I find when I channel my energy, it’s a lot easier to run and I pump out faster times. However, I don’t compete, I’m not a high school/college athlete, and I just run for myself, so I guess it’s not quite as important for me. Still though, even as a stressed out adult with adult problems, it’s nice to turn your brain completely off to get a workout in!

    • ya, i do think it’s a BIG benefit for people to have if not a coach someone they can bounce their training off of and get some support/guidance. if for no other reason than that outside perspective, sometimes it’s too hard for us to make all the ‘right/smart’ decisions ourselves. 🙂

  4. I think there’s so much out there about being mindful about everything we’re doing while running that we forget to just run and enjoy it! That’s what I try to do on long runs – not forget that I’m running, but just enjoying the feeling! Pace and form is my focus on my intervals, but running is what I focus on for the long ones!

  5. Pingback: Is It Really That Bad? We’re runners but we’re humans too…are some of those ‘human bad habits’ really doing any harm to our running |

  6. Pingback: So you want to be a runner! | tlrcblog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *