Running is Repetitive, So Avoid Reinforcing Bad Habits

If I’m on an easy run I usually get something random stuck in my head. A phrase, a word, the same song lyric running a loop over and over until the run is over. It can sure drive a person mad when it’s of course a song you hate.
tired runner
Be it as it may, I usually can’t get the lyrics to most songs right anyways, so why not make them up? It all plays in time to the music, I mean that’s all we really care about, right? 😉

“(S)he’s going the distance…(S)he’s going for speeeeed!” Won’t lie, Cake you have my heart and I don’t care what music comes out until the day I die this will forever by my favorite song. It’s not about racecar driving either.

“Don’t you worry, don’t you worry, Child…the track has got a plan for you.” This is a newer one and it comes on the heels of two thoughts: 1) I need to get something other than radio in my car and 2) overplaying a song leads to psychosis. True fact.

Whatever it is looping through your brain to get you through those miles is just fine and dandy. Running couldn’t get any more repetitive…haha…but that’s got to be a part of the reason we love it! Some not so hot things that come with a repetitive motion:

1) Body Adaptation: The body is sneaky and starts to adapt, meaning if you’re running wonky, with bad form that just get ingrained in the body’s ‘muscle memory’. Keep practicing a bad habit and over time it will bite you in the bum. Probably literally.

2) Wandering Mind: Having random thoughts through easy runs is totally fine, a nice distraction. But you don’t want to be counting blades of grass during hard repeats at the track.
runner on track
How do we, as runners, combat these?

1) Muscle Memory Toolbox:
* Check your form, them start improving it. Post with a lot of info HERE.
* Find your muscle imbalances and work on improving them. Posts HERE and HERE.
* Body rehab in the way of stretching and massage. Posts HERE and HERE.
* Drills and strength work come hand in hand with form work. Check that out HERE.

2) Focused Mind Toolbox:
* When the pain sets in try and zone the heck out. Different from wandering mind and that’s explained HERE.
* Count your stride, breathing, and do a form-check as a means of distracting from the pain AND keeping your mind working WITH your body to get through those intervals.
* Mantras…here is where a short song lyric can help. ‘She’s going for speed’ or make-up your own positive affirmation like, ‘Smooth, strong, powerful’.
* Stay relaxed and don’t try too freaking hard. Crazy, but you can slow yourself down by just trying to force it. So stay relaxed as explained HERE.

Practicing both sets of tools during easy runs is productive, so try and cut that in between making up better lyrics to overly-played songs. Avoid psychosis…plus, don’t all runners just want to be better at, well, running? 😉

1) Name a tool that should be included in the muscle memory toolbox I didn’t include.

2) Name a tool that should be included in the focused mind toolbox I didn’t already name.

3) Favorite pump-up song? Or would you like to re-write some lyrics?
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14 thoughts on “Running is Repetitive, So Avoid Reinforcing Bad Habits

  1. I don’t have any tools to add. You came up with a pretty complete list.

    My mantra when things get tough: can’t stop, won’t stop

    Songs I’ve changed the lyrics to recently during a run:
    From Taio Cruz’s Dynamite: I throw my hands up in the air sometimes saying ayoo Galileo (instead of gotta let go)
    From Lil Jon’s Snap Ya Fingers: snap ya fingers, to your snails (instead of do your stare)

  2. I think your list is pretty complete. On the muscle memory, lately I’ve been wondering if all the running I did in the fall with a hip stress fracture (and a huge limp) affected my gait (muscle memory) and are the cause of my recent aches and pains.

    • not gonna lie, but i’d venture to guess they are. i’m dealing with similar things but not from the stress fracture, have u been able to see a massage person at all, u may have some muscle tears/adhesions/calcifications to work out?

  3. Funnily enough, music doesn’t normally enter my mind when running! Random thoughts, absolutely…but not so much tunes. Odd! (I don’t run to music though so perhaps I’ve just never got into the habit of linking running with songs.)

  4. Love the tips for speed work! I’m going to go and check some more of them out now – particularly the mental tips.

    And Cake is brilliant. In every sense.

  5. Muscle Memory Toolbox: ALMOST always, “faster feet”. That “ideal” cadence for efficiency is really elusive – and considerably faster than most people run. I’m not big on counting my runners with a metronome, but almost everyone (especially when getting tired) could use a dose of higher turnover. Also helps slightly adjust stride, which may alleviate some fatigue spots.

    Focused Mind Toolbox (not sure this counts): Small goal. Break down whatever’s left into smaller, more seemingly achievable bits. It’s amazing how we can trick our brains into doing more than they think they can/want to, but by offering it up in small pieces, rather than one lump sum.

    At the end of a particularly tiring run this weekend, Mambo Number Five came up on MTVAsia (yes, I was on the treadmill). So unexpected, but I was totally grooving out to it! Helped me for a good 2-3 miles! (Even if the song only lasted 3 minutes!)

  6. Pingback: 3 Ways Running Can Fly By and 500 Reasons to Update Your Running Shoes |

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