More and more people are discovering the joy of running. But how many of us realize that there is more than a surface reason we run? We have been created physically, emotionally, and psychologically to run. In this article, we will explore the physical mind and body elements of running, the benefits of running, how to avoid obstacles, how running will help alleviate your physical pain, the stresses of everyday living, and how to prepare for your running in the future.
Our brain is a wonderful machine made of many different parts. The subconscious, or reflex, the brain is where our stimulus response is triggered. It is formed from childhood, and we learn behavior by practice and doing the same thing over and over. New patterns can be learned such as running, an activity we do continually over and over until it becomes a habit. Mental skills also can be used to overcome a variety of situations. Positive self-talk and affirmations can be used to block out pain during the tough parts of races.
The front lobe, or the conscious brain, is the newer part of the brain and allows the runner to understand, plan and enjoy what they are doing, and experience the joy of running and the positive emotions it creates.
The left brain is in the front cortex and controls logic, judgment, language, math, and other areas. This part of the brain is triggered and that is why so many runners experience their best ideas while running.
The right brain is a non-verbal, unconscious circuit that connects areas of creativity and intuition. It helps runners find solutions while running and is more than an excuse that the person will find the answer to questions and problems they are having with a creative solution.
Receptors send and receive information, and ligands are secreted by the body to send and receive information about emotions, beliefs, and behavior that can change our attitude. Rarely do I see a runner on a Saturday morning not happy about being out. Running is always a mood changer and rarely are runners negative after a run. Keeping your focus, relaxing, and enjoying the journey will improve your performance but also help you enjoy your run as you go about your journey.
Breaking Down the Mental Marathon
Galloway, Jeff. 2011 Mental Training for Runners. (Olten, New York: Meyer and Meyer)
Mental Training Tips
The Effects of Mental Preparation for Distance Runners
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