Thoughts for a long distance race: what works for you?

77020008_10216473372852886_6786247042931884032_oNot a psychologist or therapist, but as most long distance runners know – mental strength is definitely part of the game. Recently, during my long runs, I started thinking of the depth you reach in while competing in a long race. Particularly, I was trying to recall specific thoughts and classify them. Being an engineer, the urge of putting things in some logical order is impossible to control.

First, I tried to think of the axes along which the thoughts align. Many ideas came up, but I made the choice to define them based on my thoughts rather than reading other papers that may fit many people. This is because it is important for me to define these for my future personal experiences. The axes I chose are time and “positive-negative” scales. For simplicity I divided these axes to minimum number of categories. Time scales goes from “past” to “future” through “here and now’. The “positive-negative” scale is even more simple and split to “negative” and “positive”. Now that there is a map, it was time to place the thoughts on this matrix.

Placing the thoughts on the map seemed to be easy when they came up as I was running, but as I set in front of it in my living room the thoughts were hard to find and recall… not giving up on the concept, I did collect examples and placed them on this matrix. Figuratively I think it could look like this:

thoughts in a race

Now that I got my thoughts in some kind of logic order, my question was: where do I find myself spending more time? which part of this matrix works better for me? Honestly, “future” thoughts are not very productive for me, fantasizing on the future during the run put long term goals that I find often very useful during training are frustrating me during a race. Here and now – this is a very operational part of the race, helps me to be functional, overcome here-and-now problems and crisis. Surprisingly (or not?) what works best for me are thoughts that take me to the extreme: bring me to tears OR make me burst laughing. Deep dark memories, traumatic ones, may pop into my thoughts and somehow drive my run. Similarly, on the very end of the “happiness” scale (just invented it now…) I find laughing so helpful. This relieving laugh comes many times when I try to fool/cheat myself by thinking “it is almost over”, and then thinking how stupid I think I am…. Oh, and one that I really like is simply telling myself jokes…

And how about you?

If you got all the way down to this end, share with me: What are your thoughts? what helps you during the race?

Till then: see ya on the trails!

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One thought on “Thoughts for a long distance race: what works for you?

  1. Theodore Labuza

    Wow I cant believe of your sophisticated thought processes Good luck on the next one. I remember your talking about your hiking the Amazon after you finished your military

    Like

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