What is the hardest part about getting out on a run? For some it may be finding the time, for others it may be the thought of the pain that is sure to follow, but for most, the hardest part of running is all in your head. Having a disdain for running is not uncommon, however, this negative mentality towards running can be changed by using several techniques.
Sanjay Rawal, amateur runner, cinematographer, and director of 3,100: Run and Become, a documentary about a 3,100 mile race (yes, you read that correctly, 3,100 miles) discusses how changing our mindset can help us accomplish our running goals and find joy in running as opposed to seeing it as a punishment.
Running is a Pathway to Transformation
When we think about running and how it transforms us, we tend to think about weight loss and physical figure. However, running is capable of transforming so much more than just our outer appearance. Running has the capability to change our mind, provide us with mental clarity, and make us better people.
While many may view running as an outlet or merely a way to keep in shape, Sanjay discovered through his experience with Sean Martin, a champion Navajo ultramarathoner and participant in the 3,100 mile race, that running is more than just exercise, but a spiritual experience. Sean’s daily runs allow him the opportunity to commune with Mother Earth and breathe in Father Sky. As he breathes in Father Sky, he breathes in more than just air, but peace, love, and energy, allowing him the ability to lower his heart rate, get rid of anxiety, and focus on the moment.
Running can provide us with an opportunity to cast our problems aside and focus on the run itself. Our breathing becomes deep and meaningful, as if we were meditating. It is a chance to allow the mind to become loose and free, which brings mental clarity at the beginning of the run, allowing for the runner to enjoy that runner’s high throughout the whole run as opposed to just the end.
Running can and will transform our lives if we will let it. It can provide a sense of self-worth and leave us striving to accomplish more.
The 3,100 mile race is set in Queens, NY on a half mile track and takes place in the middle of summer. Most of these runners are circling the track anywhere from 120 to 140 times a day for approximately 52 days. Imagine the mental toll that would take on you, knowing that day in and day out you will be circling the same half mile loop for several hours.
Our mental state enables us to push forward and accomplish goals we never thought possible. Running doesn’t have to be painful or torturous. It is our mindset that allows us to take that pain and convert it into joy.
Our mentality is what helps us reach our running goals. The 10-15 runners that participate in the 3,100 mile race did not just wake up one morning and decide they were going to compete in this immaculate event. Realizing that goals are not obtained overnight, but through months and even years of hard work and dedication, will allow us to run with patience and chip away at them, allowing ourselves to scratch the surface of our full potential.
Remember, our pre-run mentality can set the stage for our whole workout or race. Approaching the run with a positive attitude and with the knowledge that it will transform you can act as a key motivator to pushing through mental barriers we place in front of ourselves.
Find Joy in Exertion
To often, we as runners, focus on just getting through the run and surviving it. But what if we could find joy in our runs? Imagine how much more powerful and self-fulfilling our workouts would become if we were able to feel happiness during them.
On every run, most runners will experience at least a split second of joy as they realize they are out, allowing their feet to hit the pavement while they commune with nature. You have the capability to turn that split second into 50% or even 95% of your run. This can be done by finding your own personal “flow.”
Flow is found in those moments of incredible calm that come through pushing yourself and experiencing new limits that you were unaware your body could reach. When you push you are gaining access to capacities you do not normally have access to.
No matter what your goal with running is, each day you make the decision to lace up your running shoes, walk out the door, and listen to the sounds of your feet hitting the pavement, you are challenging the idea of impossibility. Whether you are training for your first 5K, seeking to reach a personal best in your 10K, wanting to break the 2:30 mark on your marathon, or complete your first ultramarathon, have faith in your training and enjoy the journey, because the happiness and excitement you will experience as you cross the finish line will be unlike anything else.
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Thank you to Sanjay, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.