I’ve mentioned recently that I have taken to the treadmill more often as my pregnancy has progressed. The flat, even terrain is easier for me and having a bathroom right next door is very helpful too. Last time as my pregnancy progressed and we lived in the city, I got fed up with trying to deal with drivers who ran through so many stop signs. It just gets to be too much.
So you can imagine my disappointment the other night when my husband told me that a belt had broken on the treadmill and it would take a week for a new part to arrive. I went into semi-panic mode. Where was I going to run in our small town where I could find a bathroom? I also insist that all runners carry their phones with them for safety reasons, which meant putting on my FlipBelt, only adding to the pressure on my belly/bladder.
After a lot contemplation, I decided my best bet was to drive over to my parent’s house and run around their mostly flat and quiet neighborhood. It is my place of choice for runs and I can easily get 5-10 miles in from there. I figured that I could stick close to their house for an emergency stop and worst case scenario, I would duck into the woods.
As I headed out I did a nice easy mile and felt great. But the fear of having to go was constantly on my mind. So I looped back and ran into the house. I realized that I had pushed the panic button a little early and I was actually fine so I took off and decided to head out a little further. I got two miles out and that was when I needed to decide if I would turn back home or take a trail to another area for an extra mile before heading back. I decided to go for it and then started doing the math in my head of how long I would have to make it.
That was when I realized that I was far too focused on the potential of having to go to the bathroom and how many miles I had yet to do. Many of us runners tend to have a Type A personality, and even if you don’t one thing that running quickly impresses upon you is a focus. We start focusing on goals, on distance, on paces, on everything. Sometimes that can be just too much! What I needed to do was lose my focus and just run. So I turned up my music and just cruised.
Do you know what happened? It felt great! I sweated hard. I enjoyed the sun. And I got six really nice miles of outdoor running in.
Lesson learned is that for all of the great reasons to focus during training or as we progress, it is just as important sometimes to drop the intentions and just get out and enjoy running for the sake of running.
Here are a few ways you can silence all of the noise in your head and get back to basics:
•Ditch the technology. Leave the GPS at home and run a route that is familiar to you if you need to know the distance. Not worrying about your pace, the current distance, or what you have left to do is a great release for your mind.
•Turn up the volume. Put on some music or a podcast. Don’t literally turn the volume up too much. It is important to still hear what is going on around you such as cars, people, and animals. But having something to listen to makes it pretty hard to pay too much attention to the details of your run.
•Switch things up. Change your route. Do some research and then get in the car and try a new place out. If you have the luxury, take a day trip and go explore.
•Run with someone else. Join a running group or enlist a friend to run with you. Perhaps you don’t all go at the same pace. That is okay! Run at the pace that is best for the slowest runner. Enjoy the conversation and remember that there are huge benefits to slow runs.
How do you like to lose your focus?