Mike Clark, CMPC
Getting to Know the Running Unknown
Updated: Apr 12, 2021
Every time you step outside for a run you knowingly accept the running unknown – ever thought about that?
How will my legs feel this morning? Did I refuel enough after yesterday? Will it be windy, sunny, hot, cold, rainy? Over time you’ve learned ways to manage the unknown so that you can still get your run in and go about your day. This resilience is a deeply profound capacity that goes largely unnoticed when you surround yourself with fellow runners who also suck it up and get out the door no matter the conditions.
From high school and collegiate seasons ending early to companies asking their employees to work from home, we seem to be sitting with a lot of uncertainty about the future.
Here are five ways to get to know the running unknown and keep tabs on your mental game during strange and unusual times.
Give yourself a break
Many believe that the only way to improve is to keep pushing. While you’ve probably heard from your coach and your buddies that resting is important – it’s important to remember that the same goes for your mental game. Sometimes cutting yourself some slack is the very thing that will help you get out of your own way.
See it, feel it, trust it
Your brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and imagined. Said another way – many of the things that happen in your mind when you picture yourself flowing down the trail are the same as when you’re actually putting one foot in front of the other. Let’s shoot to keep your visualizations in first person, vivid, in real time, and with a realistic outcome.
Not all thoughts are true
You have something like 80,000 thoughts per day. Wild, isn’t it? Lots of nitty gritty studies that I won’t bore you with have found that only about 25% of those thoughts are positive or helpful in some way. That leaves some 60-grand floating around up there ready to go toe to toe with your big ambitions. Choose to give power to the ones that are going to help you.
Roll the dice
You’ve trained for months and your race has been cancelled. No doubt that’s a bummer – and it’s totally fair to feel upset, angry, and sad (heck, it’s even healthy). But why not put your fitness to the test? Just because you can’t toe the line doesn’t mean your driveway can’t become your mid-race aid station.
Get back to your roots
Why are you running in the first place? Somewhere, sometime, you fell in love with the grind of it all. This may be just the right time to reflect on what keeps you going and what you value. Aligning your goals and values strengthens commitment – something that’s pure rocket fuel in the face of an ever-changing world.