Thursday, August 22, 2013
Mental Training for Running
One of the hardest things for me (or anyone?) about long distance running is staying mentally focused and not becoming bored. There are a lot of ways to keep from getting bored and to make the time go by quickly. Running on scenic trails, listening to something on an ipod, running with a friend you can chat with, etc, are all helpful. However, scenic trails are not always available, nor is a friend who is willing to run long distances always available. When it comes to the ipod, it can provide some entertainment, but passively listening to something does not fully engage your mind in the way a conversation with a friend does.
I have found that by far the best method of making time go by quickly and enjoyably on a long run is quoting chapters of the Bible from memory. I find that quoting chapters that I know very well works best because if I try to quote chapters that I am a little shaky on, the mental strain tires me out and leaves me with less energy for running. Quoting chapters from the Bible that are well known to me provides the perfect balance of engaging my mind enough to keep me from getting bored without overly straining my mind and making running difficult.
Plus, let's face it - it's hard to justify spending hours per week running when life is already so busy with church, work, family, etc. However, when running time also doubles as a time to meditate on God's word and sharpen up memorized passages, it becomes easier to stay motivated and carve out the time necessary to go running. When I go running, I am also working on Bible memory which is important to me as a preacher and as a Christian in general. When I sit down to memorize the Bible or review a chapter, I am also training my mind for future runs. The more chapters I have down pat, the further I will be able to run, and the less I will have to keep repeating the same chapters over and over again which would eventually become boring.
Why run? Because in my opinion running is the single best and easiest way to improve your health and fitness. It requires little or no equipment and can be done virtually anytime, anywhere. Why memorize the Bible? Because God has promised us that if we meditate upon the word of God day and night, whatsoever we do shall prosper. Combining the two is the ultimate in mind-body-spirit exercise.
"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31