Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How To Get Through a Tough Workout

Today marks day 10 of consecutive runs.  This morning was particularly tough, mostly because I was chased by a bulldog at 4:45 am...not cool...but also because I wasn't in it mentally.

The first bit of my run was no fun.  I didn't want to do it in the first place.  But, I knew that there was a reason I needed to just keep going, finish and move on.  I had to do some talking to myself, and rationalizing and convincing myself that I should not stop a block from home and crawl back into bed for an hour longer.  Boy, that sounded great.  But finishing and logging another pretty good run started to sound even better after I played a few little mind games on myself...

Sometimes finishing a brutal workout can be, well, brutal.
  • A workout can be rough right from the get go.  Maybe you have having a heck of a time getting started in the first place.  You can find 20 reasons to talk yourself out of even beginning to workout.
  • A workout can be rough's a rough workout!  Like as in a strenuous one.  Like as in you're dog tired and don't know if you can finish the last 5, 10 or even 30 minutes of whatever it is you're doing.  You hurt...but in a good, "I'm going to be sore tomorrow" kind of way.
  • A workout can be rough because you're feeling out of shape, and you're comparing yourself to what you 'used' to be able to do or to what somebody else is doing. 
  • A workout can be rough because you hurt.  Like as in something doesn't feel right.  In this case, ignore the rest and just stop.  If you are actually feeling injured, then pushing yourself to do more is only going to end bad.  
Whether your running, lifting weights, doing a circuit, a workout video, at the gym in a class (zumba, dance, aerobics, yoga...) you will have days where it just seems. so. hard.

These are the workouts that will shape you.  They will help you to put MIND over matter.  Think of them as mind workouts.  Not only are you logging miles or minutes with your heart rate elevated, you are working your MENTAL TOUGHNESS.  Sometimes, that is the one thing that can bring you down when the going gets rough.

It's all about trickery.  That is if you don't mind telling yourself a little while lie.  This is all used for the positive...clearly.  Haven't you ever talked yourself in to eating a second cupcake?  Or another scoop of ice cream? How about talking yourself into hitting snooze one more time even though you KNOW you'll be late?  Somehow you were able to trick your  own self into doing these things...
Tips to get through it:
  • Compartmentalize.  Cubby holes.  Mental file folders.  Whatever.  Just  put the debilitating thoughts somewhere else.  I say "put" because you have to physically mentally push them out of the way.  This is so you can focus on....
  • The why?  The important stuff.  Why are you doing this particular workout in the first place.  Get back to brass tacks.  What did you set out to accomplish?  Take those thoughts out and keep them rolling around in there for a while.  
  • Focus on how you WILL feel.  If you are feeling like you need to stop and walk for example...assess the importance of persistence in that instant.  What will you feel like after you stop?  Is it really going to make you feel "better"?  Will it help the situation?  OR will you benefit more from sticking it out and going the distance?  If you are wishy wahsy about ending your workout before you'd planned, odds are you should just keep at it.  
  • Pretend you're in the ultimate competition for whatever it is you're doing.  Sound weird?  Try it!  Ok, so I visualize that I'm running Boston...or about to get my Boston Qualifying marathon time. The crowd is going wild, "my" fans are chanting my name...all I have to do is dramatically cross the finish line with my arms waving in the air stop at the usual corner, push the stop button on my Baby G, do some mental math to figure out my average mile time and make sure there are no cars before I cross the street.  
  • I tell my legs to take over.  If my mind is going soft during a run, I just tell my legs to pick up the slack.  Get going guys, you have to do your job and the job of the slacker on the second floor!  
  • Crank it up!  Get a kick a$$ playlist going.  Turn it up!  Get into the grove.  Pick some songs with super upbeat tempos.  Pick songs with lyrics that make you want to fist pump and headband and make that crazy rocker face!  This is almost always a full proof.  Just tell yourself to get through one more song.  Now keep saying that until you're done.
  • Here are some great tips from Runner's World too.  I have Loved reading this magazine online lately!
Obviously, this is not always going to work.  You are going to poop out sometimes.  But, if your MIND is in training, just like your body...those days will be fewer and farther between.  

I, in no way am claiming to be any sort of mental health expert.  These are just some things I do when the going gets rough...but obviously, if you are actually hurting...I mean physically there is something wrong...please don't ignore the pain, say you were taking my advice and end up having run on a broken leg for 7 more miles.  Please.

Other things:  
  1. I've got preschool graduation pics coming soon
  2. I've got a Lululemon gift card burning a hole in my pocket and can't choose what to get...the irony
  3. 6 more wake-ups until my summer is officially here
  4. I'm thinking about getting a new pair of running shoes to rotate in with my New Balance 880 for the summer.  No idea what to get...thinking about Mizuno?  
Any tips and tricks for getting through mentally tough workouts?
What should I get from Lululemon?
I'm kind of in need of a playlist re-vamp, speaking of...any suggestions?


  1. good tips!!!
    I remind my kids..the mind gives out long before the body..stay mentally tough!

  2. Thanks for all of the tips, now I just have to get back in the groove and apply some of them. I am totally a "mind over matter" exerciser also!

    I saw your dad up at Legends the other night and we had a nice little chat reminiscing about Spring Break 96...first time I heard of the gas station incident on our way home! ...too crazy!

  3. You inspired me!!! I'm your new follower from Exposure 99% weekday hop and would love a follow back!


I'd love to hear what you have to say! Thanks for reading!