Running is possibly one of the most common forms of exercise in the UK.
But we’d hazard a guess that it’s also one of the most hated.
It makes sense as a top choice: running is free, you don’t need any equipment and, annoyingly, it has tonnes of health benefits.
But it can also be boring and, well, difficult.
For every person who laments about runner’s high, there are at least three who won’t even bother with it.
Then there are those at the intersection of the two groups; the people with enviable discipline who go out and run despite hating every second of it because they know it’s good for them.
If you fall into this camp, you might be wondering how you can make those painful 5K runs easier.
According to a new study, being distracted is the way to make running genuinely easier.
The study, by researchers at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, Iran was published this month in the Journal of Motor Learning and Development.
It looked at how twelve female amateur runners performed when they were distracted versus when they were tuned into their bodies.
The participles ran on a treadmill at 70% of their predetermined maximum velocity on four separate occasions.
On one occasion, they were asked to concentrate on the muscles in their feet, in order to turn their attention towards their minds and bodies.
On another, they counted their steps.
In two other sessions, the runners counted backwards by threes and, finally, watched a basketball game.
Turns out, watching the video was the most effective in making the run feel easier, both physically and emotionally.
‘Our findings revealed when participants adopted a dissociative-external focus of attention, they consumed less oxygen, had lower blood lactate, and a lower rating of perceived exertion compared with trials completed using an associative attention strategy,’ the study said.
’The findings of this study demonstrate that running economy is improved and feelings of fatigue are lowest when using a combination of a dissociative-external focus of attention.’
So, yes, while running may be meditative for one person, there’s actually a lot to be said for taking your mind away from what your body is up to, according to this study.
This also goes a long way in explaining why watching the clock on the treadmill is the worst way to pass the time while running.
Why not give it a go? Here are some distraction techniques to get you through your run.
Listen to music or a podcast
This is the obvious choice: a stellar running playlist full of upbeat music is usually the go-to for runners, but a podcast can also fill that gap, especially if music doesn’t do much to take you out of your own head.
Start adding to a new running playlist or chuck on your favourite podcast while you’re out and about – just make sure to pay close attention to your surroundings.
Watch a video (if you’re on the treadmill)
Just like in the study, watching a video can be the perfect distraction.
Whether it’s a quick 20-minute YouTube video or the latest episode of Squid Game for a longer run, choose something you can be truly immersed in.
Run with a friend
Running with a friend is basically the IRL equivalent of listening to a podcast.
Find a willing partner and keep the same pace while you have a gossip on your way around.
Take in the landscape
This one will be easier if you live in a particularly scenic part of the country (or if you’re a fan of an urban landscape).
Take in your surroundings while you run: look at the trees, the hills, the houses, the different cars driving past.
Not only will this take your mind off the pain of running, but it will also help you to see the beauty in the places you see every day.Credit: Original article published here.