If you are training for a particular event, many of your runs should have a focus for example speed intervals, hills or running at a specific race pace. Of course sometimes you need a "freedom" run, one where you let loose, dream about holidays and enjoy the view, but the serious runs require focus. A technique you can use to control your thoughts from wandering is to use repetitive talk in your head, mantras, whatever you want to call them. These little tools help to focus your mind, and draw can draw you into the moment where you don’t think about other things anymore, stop many negative talk and/or your thoughts wandering away to what you are going to eat after you run!
Seven mantras to focus your mind (to be said with each foot strike);
1) Repeat “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8″ over – my favourite at the start of a run, sometimes it gets me into a zone where I don't think at all. It doesn't have to be eight, sometimes in a race I will go to six only I am not sure if it is to do with breathing and you can choose your own number of course, but I like eight.
2) Either of these depending on your need at the moment repeat “tall and strong”, “strong and fast”, “light and fast”, “relaxed and fast” …etc or any combination. Sometimes I am clumping along so I will use the word light, if I feel weak I will say strong, and if I feel slouchy I will say tall. You can make up your own words to suit yourself and how you are feeling at the moment.
3) Repeat “I can do this” – very simple and basic positive talk, good for distances at fast pace, when you’re on your own trying to extend your limits.
4) For short and fast intervals "0ne more minute", "One more minute"...
5) “I love hills” repeat. A little lying to yourself never hurt. For some reason now I actually do love hills.
6) When focusing on form I don’t really repeat this over and over but I say to myself “this is how a fast runner looks” and I do all the things I can to look like a pro runner (even if only on the inside), you gotta fake it to make it.
7) This one I use when I am struggling “how much do you want it?” or the kinder version, “I want this” is also easier to repeat.
All of these mantras help get you into the moment, focus on your form and the session at hand. In saying that, remember that it's also great to run free, without trying to focus, run for joy and enjoy the view. Happy running!