Ever feel like when you clean off your desk and straighten your office, you get more done? Well, it’s because you probably do. And there’s science to prove it. Studies show that a clean and uncluttered workspace helps your mind focus on the task at hand.
So, yeah, what does this have to do with running? Well, maybe a lot. Stretch your mind a little and come along on the journey; we’ve taken the concept of a tidy desk and applied it to training. Here’s how you can, too:
Routine creates consistency and consistency over time yields results ... which is precisely how a regular running schedule will help you reach your goals and foster long-term health. While this applies to activities you do every day—like when and how much you sleep, eat, and stretch for example—when, where, and how you run is a crucial building block.
For example, try to do your key workouts—like intervals, tempos, and long runs—on the same days each week to build a routine. Don’t know which workouts to do? Work with Fleet Feet Sports Running Club to learn from an experienced coach and meet with fellow runners to gain training motivation.
Whether you call it breath work, meditation, relaxation, or quietly sitting still, finding time to take pause during your day and just be, allows you to destress and declutter your mind so that you are more able to accomplish your goals. Plus, learning how to breathe and be present will help you tackle training more efficiently.
During research for her book Mindful Running, Mackenzie Havey found that “many top-level runners identified present-moment awareness as vital to successful running.” That’s because, like cleaning off your desk and eliminating excessive distractions, meditation literally rewires the way you think. Put another way: meditation cleans up your brain.
Ever heard of shinrin-yoku (aka forest bathing)? It’s a Japanese term used to described “contemplative walks through the woods” that are used to revitalize and cleanse the body, not to mention decrease stress and improve immune function and emotional vitality. So, when it comes to running, it just makes sense to take easy miles off road, too. Nature provides rejuvenation, pace is less important, and a softer surface makes recovery easier on your legs.
According to Philip Latter, a coach and author of Running Flow and Faster Road Racing, "Perhaps most importantly, hitting the trails lets you recenter and regroup. Instead of trying to hit certain splits, you're taking in the beauty of the natural world. Running beside a creek or up a mountain or along the coast has a definite healing effect," says Latter. "That's not just me saying that, either. Numerous studies confirm the restorative effects of nature. There's great carryover, too. We tend to be able to maintain our focus longer and sharper after spending time in the natural world."
Being prepared for a run ahead of time makes it easier to stick to a plan when motivation wanes. Plus, it just feels good. Consider laying out your running clothes the night before a an early-morning jaunt. Or, if you run after work, try maintaining an organized “gym bag” with all your training essentials—like clean running clothes, a water bottle, nutrition, a headlamp and reflective gear if you run after dark, sunscreen, a hat, etc.