You’d be hard-pressed to find a runner who doesn’t at least occasionally employ creative methods of procrastination to put off a run. You might hunker down in your living room chair half-dressed in your running clothes scrolling through your social media feeds. Maybe you just happen to remember that load of laundry that needs to be put in right when you should be leaving for your run. Or perhaps you’re one to keep changing your mind about which shorts to wear or whether you need a jacket or not.
If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, you aren’t alone. Procrastination, hesitation and overthinking all serve as roadblocks to getting out the door for a run. We worry we will be too hot, too cold, too slow, too tired or that we just don’t have the time. All the while we are avoiding actually beginning a run.
Enter mindfulness. When you invoke the power of mindfulness, which is characterized by an awareness and acceptance of the present moment, you tap into your modus operandi and notice the distracting thoughts that are zapping your motivation and preventing you from accomplishing your goals. Mindfulness can help you pull back the reins on unproductive patterns and redirect to focusing on what you should be doing in the present moment—putting on your shoes and getting out the door.
Indeed, French researchers have even demonstrated a link between the motivation to exercise and actually getting off your butt to train. The thought is that mindfulness not only takes you out of autopilot mode and helps you act with more intention, but it also buffers against self-defeating and negative thinking at the outset of exercise.
I use what I like to call the “START Method” on those days I find myself stalling.
Stop what you’re doing
Take stock of your thoughts and actions
Accept those things without judgment
Refocus on what you need to do in the present moment
Take the first step
So how exactly do you take that first step? Training your brain to be more present-centered can help you focus on micro-progress, which allows you to take the tiny actions that eventually get you out the door and pounding the pavement. This can be as simple as intentionally engaging with the process of putting on your running clothes and lacing up your shoes. Instead of constantly getting pulled off-course by your busy brain, treat this like a meditation in and of itself, really paying attention to each tiny action that inches you closer to actually getting out the door.
To become a more mindful runner, try the following exercises:
On January 15th, 2009, Patrick Harten guided US Airways Flight 1549 to its emergency landing in the Hudson River. Listen to his inspiring story as the air traffic controller to the “Miracle on the Hudson,” and his mental approach to endurance sports. You can watch him, along with 50,000 other runners, race the TCS New […]