Friday, October 29, 2010

When Running, It's mind over matter.

When I first started running, I had to overcome the physical limitations of my body. i.e. I was overweight with excess fat, My muscles had wasted away and were unable to push my body, and my weak heart was unable to deliver the required oxygen to continue running.

However, once that was sorted out, I found that any gains that I made in running (whether it was to run longer or to run faster) was more to do with mental preparation rather than physical preparation.

Let me explain.

Before I hit the gym, I make a mental note of how long and how fast I will run (this is based on my current abilities). For example, I may decide that I will run for 1 hour at 12kph. When I start running, I find myself getting comfortable in the beginning of the run. As I start approaching the 1 hour mark, I find that my body starts shutting down. If I try to run more than the planned 1 hour, it becomes extremely difficult. On the other hand, if I plan that I will run at the same speed for 2 hours, I find that I am running at a comfortable pace even after I cross the 1 hour mark. My body starts shutting down only once I start approaching the 2 hour mark.

In both the above examples, the speed was the same but the time was very different. Even though my body is capable of running for 2 hours, it becomes very difficult to actually run that long unless you mentally prepare to run for that duration.

Of course, this does not mean that I can mentally challenge myself to run for 4 hours and just go and start running. Any increase in distance or speed should be gradual. If your current running speed is 12 kph, don't expect to run 14 kph for the same amount of time. Similarly, if the longest you have run is 1 hour, don't expect to jump to 2 hours the very next day. You might do it, but you can easily injure yourself by pushing too hard. Let your body adapt slowly to longer distances or faster speed.

When it comes to running, slow & steady wins the race.


  1. One other thing I've noticed in my case is that my body starts to shutdown at the end of my playlist, ie, the longer the playlist the more I can keep going.
    When I started working out, I would do it for the duration of one TV show (22 mins) right now I have to put 4 episodes (approx 88 mins) for my workout :)

  2. Episodes? You mean you watch TV while working out?.
    I love watching TV while doing cyling or elliptical exercises. It is like "active TV watching".
    I do avoid watching TV while running because laughing during a comedy moment or feeling sad during a poignant moment can break the pattern of my running.

  3. My elliptical is in the bedroom so I have my PC right in front of it and I watch a few shows while working out. Nowadays this is the only time I watch TV :(