I was perusing Windy City Sports and found an interesting article by John Mora about how to stay focused during a long run. (I’ve liked this magazine ever since they did a short write-up on me back in October of 2004).
Anyway, the article gave three tips for staying focused during a long run. I know in the Madison marathon I had a very difficult time staying focused. I felt many times during that marathon that the water stops could not come soon enough. If only I had read this article first. I’ve adapted the tips for all you would be jogglers.
How to stay focused while running and juggling
Tip 1. Increase your sensory input.
Essentially, he’s saying that you should focus on the present. Think about your breathing, the things you’re seeing, the feel of your clothes on your body. Anything that gets you to stop thinking about the future is worth trying. I tried this between mile 17 and 22. There were cones all along the course and I would just keep looking up at one ahead, stare at it and just tell myself I had to make it to that cone. When I made it, I looked ahead to the next one. You’d think that the joggling would be enough to focus on but over the course of 2 plus hours, it’s not.
Tip 2. Shift into character.
Try to imagine you are someone else. Think about who the greatest joggler in the world is and imagine you are that person. See in your mind how they look at mile 20. Then imagine that you are them and act it out. Continually tell yourself that you are the greatest joggler ever and if you say it enough, you may actually start to believe it.
Tip 3. Focus on your breathing or heartbeat.
To me this is pretty much the same thing as the first tip but it’s worth breaking out. Listen to the sound of your heartbeat or pay attention to your breathing. Since these things are controlled subconsciously focusing on them brings you back to the moment and helps you forget about the pain. Make no mistake about it, joggling a marathon is painful!