When you’re in the zone, your adrenaline’s rushing, endorphins pumping, on that runner’s high, it’s the best feeling there is. But, whether you are running 1 mile, or 26.2, every runner is going to hit “The Wall” at some point. When you feel like throwing in your Nikes and quitting, here are six ways to break through that wall and keep truckin.
Pump the Jams
Normally I ditch the iPod and simply run to the soundtrack of birds chirping and the rhythm of my feet pounding the pavement. There much serenity in shutting out the outside world and getting lost in your own thoughts. The only way for me to reach this tranquil place is by running. It can’t be forced, and some days, its just not there. On days that are extra hard, there is nothing better than a song like Eye of The Tiger blasting in my ears to get me pumped up. Loud, upbeat music keeps your legs going and distracts your mind from wanting to stop. Don’t hesitate to tune out and hit play next time you’re struggling on a run.
I may be a little too competitive. I’m infamous for treadmill wars. When the guy next to me at the gym pushes the ‘faster’ button I do too. Often times I end up running at an unrealistic pace, but I refuse to lose. When running on a trail, at the gym, track, or even just the road; I have to catch/lap/beat/catch any person I see. It may be over the top, but hey, it keeps me going. If there is no one around, compete against yourself! My watch is the best competition I have. I’m obsessed with timing all my splits and try and make each one faster and faster.
Words of Wisdom
I’ve spent countless runs repeating phrases like “burn baby burn” or “pain is weakness leaving the body” or “just do it” over and over in my head for hours. It keeps my mind busy and my legs moving. Memorize a phrase or quote that motivates you. Recite it as you run. It’ll keep you going.
Keep Your Eye On the Prize
Whether it’s fitting into those skinny jeans, beating your rival at your next race, running your fastest time or your delicious protein smoothie at the end of your work out; keep your eye on the prize. Think of your reward. Why are you running in the first place? Repeat your goal over and over in your head. If you want it bad enough, you will make yourself do it.
Break It Up
What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One small bite at a time. Nothing is more overwhelming than feeling like quitting after mile one then realizing you still have nine left to go. Instead of counting the miles down in your head, break up your run. Take it one mile at a time. Tell yourself, “I will run this mile in seven minutes.” Focus on the mile that you are on. When you finish it, do it again for the next mile. For some reason, ten sets of one mile sounds more doable than just running ten miles. Try picking a landmark like a stoplight, or a tree and tell yourself to just make it to that point. When you reach it, pick a new one. Break up your runs. Before you know it, you’ll be on mile ten.
Just Keep Running
Dory on Finding Nemo said it best, “Just keep swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, SWIM!” The truth is, your mind always wants to quit before your body actually needs to. When you have that devil on your shoulder telling you to stop, don’t give in to yourself. When you fight through these moments you become so much stronger and it will make the next run easier. Slow your pace if you need to. The second stop running, it will just make it easier to justify a break again and again. Even when you feel like you can’t take another step, you most likely aren’t going to die, so just keep those legs moving.
Running is a love-hate relationship. Some days are good, some are bad. So embrace the good days and run extra hard. Those good days are priceless. More importantly, don’t dwell on the bad ones. Even a bad run is better than no run.