When it comes to getting stronger, it is all about resilience. Running and training take a toll on your body and put you in some challenging situations, but as you spend more time on the roads, track and trails you learn to put mind over matter. All of this takes focus—emotional, physical and mental—and improving your focus can cause a chain reaction in other areas of your running as well (strength, perseverance, commitment, endurance and more).
Psychologist Zelana Montminy, Ph.D., author of 21 Days to Resilience: How to Transcend the Daily Grind, Deal with the Tough Stuff and Discover Your Strongest Self, shares some simple ways you can improve your focus and crush your goals.
1. Use your imagination to visualize your running goals.
“Seeing” it in our mind, even though it’s not actually happening in the moment, makes us feel like it’s achievable, keeping us motivated and focused. Think about what could be rather than what is. If your goal is to run ten miles and you’re clocking six, imagine how it’ll feel to run that extra four; literally imagine yourself seeing that tenth mile creep up. This is very powerful tool and should be an intrinsic part of your running journey.
2. Resilient people are incredibly self aware.
Awareness has a lot to do with focus—focusing on our bodies and our minds. They have to both we working together efficiently to maximize our physical fitness is imperative. Our days can get frenzied with external stimuli; it’s important to know how to regain our attention. Here’s my trick to improve focus: Before your run, run your palms together and just notice what it feels like. It’s really simple and quick but it will help you snap back into attention, and integrate physical sensation with behavior and feelings so you can be fully connected before embarking.
Of course breath work is an important part of physical activity but to improve focus and mental health, it’s imperative. Try this: Breathe in through your nose for the count of four, hold for four, and breathe out through your mouth for the count of four. Now breathe in through your nose for the count of three, hold for three, and breathe out through your mouth for the count of three. Breathe in through your nose for the count of two, hold for two, and breathe out through your mouth for the count of two. Breathe in through your nose for the count of one, hold for one, and breathe out through your mouth for the count of one. This will help slow heart rate and get you to refocus your energy to where it really matters. Like on your next run!
4. Acceptance is hard for most people.
We’re constantly striving toward unrealistic ideals that our culture supports. Accepting your run for what it was, even if it wasn’t a great one, is an important step to improvement—and being about to focus on growth. Acceptance is not about giving up but more about leaning into our current circumstances and feelings. Resilient people accept what is; they accept that nothing is permanent. Instead, they focus on the lessons they can learn, how they can overcome, adapt and move forward with grace.
5. When we’re focused too much on what’s lacking and what we need to fix, we don’t appreciate all the good and what’s going well.
Be grateful for your abilities, even if you’re trying to improve. Focusing on what you’re good at, instead of what you’re not so good at, is empowering and strengthening. It fosters a positive, goth mindset that makes future goal-setting and achievements that much more within reach.