Having been a runner for the past 18 years, without missing a week, I have had to get good at playing tricks with my brain. Getting yourself out the door; rain or shine, heat or cold, low energy or full of energy--is hard to do day after day and year after year. Over the years, I have developed a mental toughness and fortitude but also tools for playing tricks with my brain to get my body moving.
As of recently, I am coming out of a running slump; which I am okay with, believe me. I am all for giving the body a break when that's what it's asking for. I am ready to start getting back to my faster runs and to 10-15 miles on long runs, though. It's been harder than usual making myself go further and faster. One day, while struggling to go further, I thought about a particular portion of a route where I had an ample amount of energy. I changed direction and took that route. By thinking about this route where I had good feelings, it enabled me to go further and faster and complete a longer run. I have found that if I connect different routes where psychologically and physiologically I have felt good in the past and had "good" feelings, I have a little more stamina. My mind can see me finishing and finishing strong. This has also lead me to avoid certain stretches where I really struggled on past runs even if it means running on the opposite side of the path or road. This mental trick of thinking of success and taking that route and then avoiding and therefore not taking a bad route seems to be enough to mentally switch things up for me.
This strategy that I have started to employ for running also got me thinking about motivation in similar areas of life like working out or dieting and also life struggles in general. I think the mind is a complicated and powerful thing. So much of our life involves the way we process experiences and feelings. What if our unhealthy habits and patterns could be more easily dealt with if we took a different route psychologically? What if we focused on positive feelings and thoughts and took the path that reinforced those and avoided things, routes or people that took us to the negative feelings. This may be too simplistic but what if we start to employ these little mind tricks. For example, what if we put workout clothes in the car or put them on first thing in the morning. Or what if we avoided certain aisles in the grocery store and only surrounded ourselves with people that are good for our self-esteem, motivation and good feelings. Maybe all these small things can add up to a longer run.