Want to make running easier? Stop thinking about yourself

·1-min read
Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Westend61 - Getty Images

In running, as in life, always thinking about yourself can get you into trouble.

In fact, a new study found that the more closely you listen to your body while you run, the more draining running becomes, both physically and psychologically.

So, what's the alternative? To make running easier, swap tuning into your interminable inner grumblings (‘This is hard!’, ‘Is that a blister?’) for tuning into external sights and sounds.

The findings of the study, conducted with recreational female runners, align with a theory in exercise science known as the Constrained Action Hypothesis: the idea that our bodies already know how to move better than our conscious minds do, so any attempt to tell our bodies what to do results in less efficient movement.

The worst strategy for the runners was 'thinking about their movements,' says Jared Porter, a professor of human movement at the University of Tennessee, who oversaw the study. Thinking of something – anything – else led to better results.

The women in the study performed best when they ran on a treadmill while watching a basketball game, but outdoor distraction can come in the form of an on-the-run conversation, listening to music or even spotting wildlife. Say, is that a bird?

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