To Push Harder through Your Workout, Engage Your Mind

DollarphotoclubWomanRunning285By Mia James

We all know that point in a workout where you feel like you can’t run another step or face another set of reps. While we tend to blame our flagging energy and strength on physical limits, our real obstacle is often in our minds.

That little voice that tells you that you can’t go on may not be your most reliable gauge. We’re generally capable of more than we think and can push through the final stretch, even when we don’t believe we can. There are a few exceptions, such as when you may be causing or aggravating an injury or when you feel like you’re coming down with an illness. Otherwise, however, you can flex your mental muscles to dig deep and power through. You’ll be rewarded with fitness benefits and a further boosted with a huge sense of accomplishment.

Next time you feel yourself on that threshold, consider the following mental exercises to propel yourself through the finish line:

  1. Picture yourself finishing strong—not just completing your workout, but really attacking during the last few moments. You might see yourself sprinting through the finish or hoisting a heavy weight with a burst of force.
  2. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ve heard the instructor advise you to breathe through your most uncomfortable moments. Use this technique during cardio and strength workouts as well. Even if you think you’re out of breath, focus for a moment on as full an inhale and exhale as you can muster. This simple action will help release excess tension and allow you to send your energy stores where you need them.
  3. Break it down. If the remaining time or elements of your workout seem overwhelming, break them down in your mind down into less intimidating segments. If you have a mile left to run or walk, look for landmarks you can easily reach—such a tree or street sign. Hit these markers one-by-one and you’ll cruise through the remaining distance. The same approach works for time: 20 minutes remaining? Break it down into 5-minute increments.
  4. Remember your best days. Not every day is “your day” in the gym or on the trail or road. But you have to admit, on some days you feel pretty great. Commit good fitness experiences to memory and create a vivid mental image of yourself reaching a goal or accomplishing something you never imagined possible. Then, on the days when it’s not coming together, pull up these good memories. You’ll see yourself at your strongest and remember that you’re capable of more than you believe!