“Success in running requires mental toughness, and that requires focus.”
Joan Dahlkoetter, PhD, knows a thing or two about focus. As an Olympic Sports Psychologist, author, founder of several highly successful sports psychological programs and a 5 time Olympic medalists herself, she’s in the know about training the mind to perform at a high level in sports.
In her article ‘Improving Your Focus To Run Faster’ Dahlkoetter explicitly highlights the aspects of the mind that can transform a good runner into a great runner. Success is all in the mind and there are various ways in which you can venture deep within its parameters to harness what you need to succeed.
Runners Harness What You Need
Focus “requires total concentration” states Dahlkoetter, which, as runners would know, is often way harder said than done. External factors, including (especially) your own wandering thoughts can easily steal your concentration and cause you to lose your edge.
To avoid this you need “present-centered focus“. A focus that is established and maintained during the present moment. A heightened awareness of all that is occurring in the now. If you can train your mind to be present and attentive – highly focused – your body will follow suit, performing to the expectations you set it.
Training The Brain For Focus
Yin Yoga has become a popular best friend for all runners alike. From those who leisurely jog through the park on a Saturday, to those who have a training schedule for that marathon coming up next year. Every runner can benefit from what Yin Yoga brings to their mental strength and stamina.
Yin Yoga is a form of delving deep into the mind. It creates stillness that allows you to investigate deeper issues. Often physical symptoms of the body manifest due to mental unrest. For example, stress can create tension in the shoulder and neck muscles. Yin Yoga helps to detach the physical body from the mind. It allows you to identify mental symptoms with which you can then analyse closely.
Transform The Pain Of Endurance
Pain is the biggest mental hurdle. For any athletes, or weekend jogger. The quality of yin yoga poses pushes your to your ‘edge’. On the edge of discomfort and pain is where you mind can be trained to endure. Here, in this mindful, highly aware state of meditation, is where you can cultivate focus that will penetrate any internal or external distraction.