Advice and Insights from Jeff Galloway

09/19/2018 - 16:17

By Jeff Galloway

jf3597c.jpgHow To Turn A “Bad Workout” Into A “Good One”
I was looking forward to my running retreat in Carmel CA after 3 weeks of non-stop travel.  Intuitively I felt that a good run would “wake up” the circuit in my brain that improves motivation.  But it wasn’t happening.  During the first 10 minutes my legs felt heavy and un-responsive--the switch wasn’t turning on.  I thought about turning around.  But then I remembered what I learned when researching for my book MENTAL TRAINING:  If you activate the human brain with a “checklist” of cognitive thoughts and questions, and make strategic adjustments, a bad run can turn into a good one.
We have two brain operating systems
The ancient, subconscious (“monkey”) brain has thousands of stimulus-response behavior patterns embedded. We will usually start our workouts with a standard routine that is conducted by this brain control center. Our human brain is a different entity which we activate by consciously focusing on what we are doing and setting  up a strategy. If we default to the ancient reflex brain, motivation is often influenced by stress:: stress from weather, time crunch, fatigue, life, etc., will trigger anxiety and then negative hormones when the “monkey brain” is in control.  But if you have a strategy, you can activate the human brain which over-rides the “monkey” and stops the flow of negative hormones that bring your motivation down. Here are some questions and tips that can activate your conscious brain and take control over motivation.
What motivates you on your daily run?  
Make a list and carry it with you when you’re not motivated. Most commonly, an adjustment of the run walk run® strategy will reduce effort and allow “cranky legs” to warm up.  On my run in Carmel, I reduced my strategy from (run 30 seconds/walk 15 seconds) to (run 15 sec/walk 15 sec) and felt better within 2 minutes. I kept reminding myself of the other benefits that I receive after every run: improved attitude, more energy, and a unique sense of empowerment. There is no other activity that leaves me so empowered to create, solve problems and take on challenges. I feel better after a run than I do all day long.
What do you look forward to seeing on your running route?
I love running along the beach. As soon as I reached the views of the waves crashing on the rocks, I loved being out there.  Look for wildlife, interesting or “quirky” architecture, the store displays, different trees, seasonal changes.  All of these will invigorate your human brain as you focus on them.
How to be motivated when you might not feel like running?
1. Pick a short amount of running which seems really easy, followed by a longer walk break.  Once you start, you can adjust or enjoy the original strategy.
2.Run with a friend, talk, and pull one another along
3. Have a positive or funny friend who you can text or call before, during and after a run
4. Tell  yourself that you are only going to run for 5 minutes—once started, you will tend  to continue.
5. Make sure your blood sugar is adequate.  Within 30 minutes before a run, eat a 100 calorie snack such as an energy bar or the proven sports drink, Accelerade.

For nutrition information, see my book NUTRITION FOR RUNNERS
Note: To learn more about motivation with methods, see MENTAL TRAINING
YOU have the power to motivate yourself—but you have to take charge.  Focusing on the items above will turn on your human brain which will lead you step by step to a better run and a better attitude.
Olympian Jeff Galloway has coached over one million runners to their goals. He conducts retreats in Carmel CA and other locations throughout the year with individualized running form evaluation, training scheduling and extended email for questions.  Couples who enroll in Carmel retreats will receive a free BFF Massager ($300 value).

Copyright © 2018 Running Journal