‘Does it ever get easier?’ A look inside the mind of a trail runner

//‘Does it ever get easier?’ A look inside the mind of a trail runner

‘Does it ever get easier?’ A look inside the mind of a trail runner


No, you just get faster. No, you just get stronger. No, you just learn to live with it. Well? If you have been running for a while, you will have your own answer to this question. Often heard at the end of a trail race, mostly asked by the new guy who is just getting into trail running.

You always want to push yourself

Ask any Chat Group and you will get all sorts of answers. Everyone wants to go longer, do more, enter bigger races. So one the one side you have the runner who wants to keep pushing. Is never satisfied for long with their achievements, and quick to enter the next biggest race. And start planning.

As a trail runner, you push your body up against a mountain. Your physical limitations determine how far you stop. And these physical limitations are managed by the one factor that is responsible for your results. The mind.

The brain controlling the legs

Your brain controls your body. We all know that. And again, if you have been doing this for a while, you will know that you mind needs to be strong to finish the race. It is not about the legs. Your mind is behind everything your body does, whether it is unconscious breathing, or running your heart out. Your mind tells your body when you should stop. Because your mind is trying to keep you alive, and comfortable.

So, on the other side of the equation we have the mind. The body and the mind. Then the question becomes, what is your definition of hard? As in the opposite of easier? Is the race tough because of the distance? Maybe. Or is the race tough because of the speed at which you are trying to run? Maybe. OR is it the mental battle between your mind telling you to stop, and another part of you willing yourself to keep going?

The Central Governor

In the vast amount that Professor Tim Noakes has written on Running, he explains his theory of the Central Governor, which is responsible for your running performance on any given day. According to him, your Central Governor determines the pace you can comfortably run on race day. Taking into account all the variables including the weather, what you ate, how you slept, how hard you worked during the week, Everything. The Central Governor then sets the pace, and you can basically run the entire race without thinking or worrying about the pace. Unless you want to go faster. Because the group is pulling away from you, or your friends are leaving you behind and you don’t want to look bad or unfit.

It could be that your mind turns off your running legs long before you actually are at the end of your efforts.

So, does it get any easier?

Yes, if you get used to it. But then you will just aim higher. Any training programme will challenge you at first, then you will adapt, then you will reach a plateau. Then you need to increase the challenge to keep on growing. As we are all growing human beings, we will never stop growing. So we will always keep on increasing the challenge, and aim higher. When you realise this, you will start to get used to the idea of being challenged. And you will realise that it is from the mind that the challenge will come, you can choose to ignore it.

Do you mind a hard effort?

Asking the question: ‘Does it get any easier’ means you need to look at your definition of what is a ‘hard effort’. Could it be that you are pushing too much in your training? Get a coach. Or could it be that you are entering races that are too far above your ability? Downgrade and get comfortable on the shorter distances first. Or that you just feel like your lungs are going to explode? Get off the couch more than once a week, and start with a walk. Then run. Consider a lifestyle change.

 Your body is magnificent

It can adapt to almost any load given enough time and progressive loading. Your mind is the most complex computer on the planet. It can achieve the impossible, if you just make a consistent effort. Making your hard efforts part of a more structured, gradual plan could increase your performance and surprise even your wildest dreams, and pretty soon you will be the one asked: ‘So, does this ever get easier?’

Taking your trail running to the next level can seem daunting. So you entered for that big race and you are shaking in your shoes a bit? We can help. From choosing the right gear, training advice, or sorting out any minor niggles, our team of experts will keep you flying down the trails on the way to yet another finishline celebration. Get in touch below with your questions and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

By |2016-09-07T09:25:48+00:00September 7th, 2016|Running Injuries|0 Comments

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