Running an Event? Get Focused

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Focusing your mind is the surest way to feel great throughout your race, and especially as you cross that finish line … whether it’s a 5K or an ultra marathon. With ChiRunning, you learn to focus your mind, moment-by-moment, using your mind to listen to – and then support – your body to start running in a way that is both relaxing and efficient. The practice of focusing your mind can then be transferred to focusing on long-term or more-significant goals in your life. The key is to practice!

When you focus, you create a stronger connection between you and the object of your focus. When cooking a meal, if you think about what you want your food to taste like (instead of allowing your mind to wander), you’ll end up with a more delicious meal. If you focus on the few extra pounds you may have gained this winter, you might just become more “connected” to them. If instead you focus on eating well and running consistently, that is what will happen, and those pounds will melt away.

When successful people were studied to understand how they achieve their goals, being able to focus their mind was one of the common and key skills.

How to focus your mind
To amplify the power of your mind, chose a very specific goal for running your race: it could be to win your age group, to finish without pain, to enjoy yourself fully, to use your pelvic rotation, to run a specific time, to bring in $1,000 for your favorite charity. The connection that is created by focusing your mind adds something very tangible to you as a person, so it is best to focus on qualities that are truly meaningful to you. For instance, feeling strong, centered, flexible, energetic are all positive focuses that can enhance your whole life.

When you focus your mind, you are setting your mind and intention in a specific direction, and not letting your mind wander to the many other options that might distract you from your goal. If there is one thing we have a lot of in this life, it’s options. Have you noticed the laundry detergent isle in the grocery store?  I focus on finding one that is least harmful to the environment and that does not leave a perfumed odor on my clothes which quickly narrows my options.

Let’s say your goal is running your first marathon. You can then get more specific with your original goal and choose to complete your marathon injury free. Then you can refine that goal and decide, “I don’t only want to be running injury-free, I want to feel great when I’m finished running. I want to complete a marathon pain-free and injury free.” The key to success is to get a clear goal in mind, and stick with it.

In the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” John Nash, the Nobel Prize winning economist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia.  He explains that to overcome his very intense delusions, he has to go on a “diet of the mind.” He focuses his mind on what is real and chooses not to allow his mind to wander toward his delusional world. That concept of a diet of the mind is an important one when you are practicing to stay focused on a goal for your event. Staying focused means that you don’t allow your mind to entertain other negative thoughts, like not running the marathon, not finishing the marathon, finishing the event but feeling like hell afterward, finishing but never running another step because of an injury.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever change your plans or your goal. Focusing does not mean that you block out important messages or warnings coming your way. That’s not being focused, it’s being stubborn, or worse. In the ChiRunning technique, we encourage you to listen to your body while running and make necessary adjustments. If your body is clearly telling you that running a marathon is just too long a distance with your level of running training, you then adjust, and try running half marathon.

When practicing the ChiRunning technique, you begin by focusing your mind on listening to and feeling your body. It might sound simple, but it’s harder to do than you think, and more rewarding than you can imagine. Your mind will want to wander, as everyone’s does. You have to repeatedly stick to your “diet” and bring your mind back to engaging your core muscles, to gently leaning from your ankles, to swinging your arms to the rear. By doing this you are actually creating a stronger neuro-link between your brain and the nerves and muscles in your body. In the beginning there may be little connection, but over time, as the connection grows stronger, you will have more control over your body, and your mind. Additionally, the body and mind begin to act as one whole – YOU – rather than the two separate entities of your body and your mind.

Focus is a very powerful skill and one of the keys to running a successful, injury-free event. As we say on our shirts:

Focus Your Mind
Strengthen Your Core
Run Like the Wind

Choose from our four ChiRunning Training Programs to help you Get and Keep Focused!

Posted in Technique, Lifestyle

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