Mind Tricks for the Running WOD

runnerLet’s say you’re already doing everything you can to improve your running: You’re practicing POSE running, wearing the right shoes, and trail running in Griffith Park with Anthony every Sunday morning. If you’re not, drop what you’re doing and e-mail Anthony right now!

But let’s say you’re doing all that and you’re still not improving your time whenever running shows up on daily workouts. Like all things we do at CrossFit City of Angels, running is not only technique and conditioning—there’s also mental component to it. Your mind often tells you to stop long before your body does. Sometimes you need to trick your mind to help your body break through.

Here are some mind tricks to help you push through the running portion of your WOD:

Set Time Goals

You should know how long it takes for you to sprint 400 meters, run 400 meters and jog 400 meters. If you don’t, come in during open gym and have a coach time you! Depending on the WOD, pick a time/speed that’s appropriate to the workout and try to maintain that time for every run. Watch the clock when you run out the door and calculate what time you should return by. Never run without a goal in mind.

Pick a Pace Car

Your fellow athletes are one of the best tools for pushing yourself! Choose one or two athletes in your class who are slightly better at running than you. When you’re outside running with one of them, try to keep up. Or if they’re behind you, try not to let them pass you. Their slightly faster pace will push you harder that you’d typically run on your own. Don’t choose someone who is way faster than you or you’ll just get smoked.

Fast First, Slow Second

If you’re running a 400, try pushing yourself on the front end, during the first half as you run down to the stop sign. Then ease up a little bit on the way back so that your body can start to recover for whatever work you’re doing inside the gym. That way you can push yourself hard for half of the run and still give yourself time to catch your breath. If you can help it, avoid walking. Once you walk it’s hard to get back to running again.

Ten Steps of Rest

Use the distance between your barbell (or whatever you’re doing inside) and the door to walk and take deep breaths. You want to get oxygen into your system to prepare yourself for the run. But as soon as you hit the sidewalk, start your run. As you finish your run, rest again from the door to your barbell.

Dogs Pant, People Breathe

As you run, you’re going to be tempted to take short, quick breaths. Instead, focus on taking long, controlled inhales and quick but full exhales. Count three seconds of inhale and two seconds of exhale. This helps take your mind off the run and gives you the oxygen you need to keep pushing through.