Posted by: Joe English | September 15, 2013

Mental Games — Finding Your Focus On the Edge

running-advice-bugCoach Dean Hebert and I have both been writing over the past week about the discomfort of pushing hard and pushing through new boundaries. I wrote last week about the difficulty of pushing hard when we are already in a weakened state. I want to build on that today to talk about another aspect of this discussion: finding focus within or over the edge of your limits.

As I wrote last week, there may be times when you are in a weakened state and can’t get yourself to push hard in workouts. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t types of workouts or situations that will bring you to a point of focus and allow you to move beyond the pain. What I mean here is that some people may find that situations like races or group workouts will focus them so much that they are able to intently concentrate and this allows them to go hard without that pain.

In my personal situation I noted that track workouts have been the bane of my existence over the past two years. I go to the track. I do short speed workouts, but anything beyond about 1,000 meters kind of makes my heart sink. This is, as Coach Dean points out, likely a fear response — a fear of failure or a fear of feeling even more pain than I already have going on in my world. But during this time I have felt completely at home during races. The particular focus that it brings to me allows me to shut out the fears and pain and push hard like I normally would on the track. What I’ve done is to race more during this time and use these races as intense speed workouts. For me this has been an answer to help me get in my workouts in a time when I might not have been able to mentally stomach the tough workouts on the track.

How this may apply to you is to think about the types of workouts that are blocking you, whether they are long speed workouts, tempo runs, sprint workouts or perhaps strength workouts. Think about them and then think of things that might sound a little more palatable to you. If running on the track doesn’t sound good, how about playing a speed game on a wooded trail. If you hills sound terrible, how about running up and down the stadium bleachers like “Rocky.” If tempo runs sound terrible, how about having a faster runner join you for 15 minutes and tying to keep up with them. There are many ways to skin these cats, you just need to find the types of workouts that will produce the results you are looking for but in ways that feel “doable” to you.

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