Why do you run? It is because of reasons related to fitness and mental health, or because you’re training for an event? You may have a variety of reasons why you run, and those reasons can change depending on the day or the time of year.
There is no right reason when it comes to why you run, but there may be benefits to exploring other reasons for running.
The racer’s mentality
When it comes to preparing for a race or event, you likely approach it with a certain frame of mind. Perhaps you have goals for your runs, you watch your overall time and your splits closely, and you may turn down casual runs with friends because the routes aren’t long enough or challenging enough for what you need to do.
Have you been there?
This mentality, while helpful to your training and ultimately your performance, may hold you back from getting the most out of your runs and your enjoyment of your training.
The runner’s mentality
Yes, you’re an athlete. And probably a competitor. But, there are times where you might want to shift from a racer’s mentality, where you’re running for training purposes, to more of a runner’s mentality, where the focus is on fitness and enjoyment.
When we focus too much on the race, and on the ideal outcome, we may miss the opportunity to focus on enjoyment, which is often why many people start and continue to run. If all you focus on is training, then running can begin to feel like a job, and one that you don’t enjoy. When all you do is train, and compete, you may be heading toward burnout without realizing it.
Additionally, when we’re so focused on training and about an event coming up, we may not be as in tune with how our body is experiencing the run. If you’re in training, you may push through an ache or pain, but if you’re running for fitness, you might be more inclined to slow down and listen to your body. This can ultimately help you in the long-term.
The importance of shifting perspective
It can be challenging to shift from focusing on training to running for enjoyment or general fitness. We’re not saying you need to give up training or the mentality that comes with it completely, but instead, consider having days where you consciously shift your perspective.
By taking the focus away from training for even a short time, you may find that you experience more enjoyment, are more in-tune with your experience, and may even “perform” better than when you’re monitoring your stats.
Are you ready to shift your perspective?
If you are ready to shift your perspective and mentality from training to fitness, it’s okay to start small. You can pick one run and decide it’s no longer a training run, but instead is more of a fitness, or fun, run.
You can do this fitness run solo, or perhaps you invite a friend to run with you (maybe the person who you know is slower than you, so you usually don’t invite him or her). Maybe you have your kids join you on their bikes. If you think you’ll have a hard time getting out of the racer’s mentality, having someone else with you can be beneficial.
Before you start your run, remember the goal: to have fun, and to run. That’s it. Leave your heart rate monitor or watch at home (if you’re willing), and during the run, take the time to notice your surroundings, pay attention to who you’re with, and feel your body experiencing the run.
Taking the time to shift perspective, even occasionally, can help you gain more perspective about your running and can help to create even more positive experiences.