Running can be hard, but not in the way most people think. Yes, it can be physically hard when you are unfit, especially if you don’t have cardio health or have a sedentary job, (sitting on your ass all day shortens your hamstrings, and boy do they sing when you finally ask them to work) but it’s mostly mentally challenging.
I actually find the mental side of running more challenging than the physical side. We are constantly being bombarded with data in our every day lives, especially now we walk around with a digital oracle in our pockets. Going for a run can force you to take that data overload away – even running with headphones means you are limiting that input. It’s just you, the road (or treadmill) and your thoughts.
Holy fuck, do those thoughts start humming around that brain with a vengeance when you start running. If you are not careful all those negative thoughts (I can’t do this, I’m not a runner, I’m not good enough, this is too hard, fuck my back is sore, my foot sore, my knee hurts,) can take over.
The best way I found to overcome those nasty fuckers in my head is to practice the art of zen running. I can already hear your “WTF is zen about running” but hear me out…
Zen is described as an art of calm attentiveness, otherwise described as “being in the moment”. To translate that to running, you focus your thoughts on your posture, your breathing and how your foot strikes the pavement. If you run with headphones, focus on running to the beat of your music (CBFitwear has playlists on Spotify to help with that) or the words that are used in the podcast/audio book. Focus on what is around you: notice the wind blowing through the trees, the flowers, what sounds can you hear? What can you smell?
You will find that your mind will try and wander, and those sneaky little nasty thoughts try and seep back in. When that happens acknowledge them, but then bring yourself back to focus on your zen running.
I found a mantra quite useful (I got this, I’m strong, I’m determine, I’m a warrior) or create yourself a focus checklist that you can do in order: Breathing: Posture: Feet: Music (repeat). Running is repetitive, so match the pace with your mantra or checklist and repeat, repeat, repeat.
Try it and see what you think. Also keep checking our blog posts, as we will be looking at the CBF guide to running with minimal effort. For me, the really challenging time is around the 5k mark, when the boredom sets in. How do you overcome it?