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run_eliteA little while ago on my blog, I wrote on using dissociation as an evidence based process for enhancing endurance as a runner. Throughout my own research and exploration on how to use the mind to really develop our running ability, I have also found that related to the research on hypnosis and running, there is much on the cognitive strategies used by runners and a fabulous amount of information about the psychological profile of marathon runners and elite runners for long distance running.

I have been reading a fascinating paper entitled “Psychological characterization of the elite distance runner” by Morgan and Pollock (1977) and along with a number of other investigations of a similar ilk, it would seem that elite marathoners in general tend to be introvert – which was initially something I read with sadness because my own psychological profile tends to move in the direction of extroversion. However, this is not universal and several winners of Boston and London marathons have rated as extroverts on the Eysenck Personality Inventory and so there is hope for me yet!

This hypnosis audio track is not about exploring personality or psychological traits though. The reason I mention it at all though is because those introverts do tend to be very well skilled with their own active cognitive strategies that aid them with their running in a wide number of ways, as I have shown with a number of techniques in my Hypnosis For Running book.

Whenever I read Runners World magazine or a running blog I subscribe to, I am often barraged by pieces of research showing that runners listening to music tended to recover quicker or run more efficiently in some recent study, and I listen to music a great deal when running, particularly on my longer runs, it helps me pass the time and I enjoy the absorption in the music – this is dissociation. It is me classically distracting myself from the detail of how I am really feeling, like when you are battling through fatigue or aches at mile 25 at the marathon and using whatever you can to get you through to the end.  Music has other ways it helps us, with being uplifting and inspirational and having emotional association that aids us, but it also can distract and aid dissociation.

However, the earlier mentioned study by Morgan (1977) showed that despite the prevalence of such these dissociation strategies were not the main “cognitive strategy”  among elite runners. In fact they tended to use an associative strategy.

So these elite marathon runners stated that they actually paid very close attention to their own bodies and especially noticed what happened within their legs and feet as well as monitoring their breathing closely.

They also did keep a note of time, heck these are elite runners, I watch my Garmin a great deal, but these guys are watching it with more interest than I am! However, they generally stated that the pace they adhered to was dictated by how their body felt.

When marathon racing, these elite runners also tended to instruct themselves to relax and keep the muscles loose throughout the race.  They tended to be people who dealt with anxiety very well outside of running and though there was much, much more to the research, these are the bits relevant to what this hypnosis audio track is going to help you with.

It is far more common to think of runners using dissociative strategies, but these studies all do highlight the fact that runners who excel are mentally actively in some shape or form while running. I hope you realise that and at the very least see the benefits of that.

One such cognitive strategy then, as already suggested here today is that of ‘association’ and this is particularly prevalent with introverted elite distance runners. I suspect that most of you readers are not elite runners, and so we may not have as much awareness of ourselves when running. Those of you that have only been running for a short period of time may not know your own limits or how to spread out your exertions within your longer runs as well as elite runners who rely on such an awareness.

This hypnosis audio track enhances your ongoing capability awareness when running as well as use an associative cognitive strategy when running to get a good sense of whether to really push on with your pace, or whether to ease back during a long training run, or a race with a specific desired outcome where it is particularly pertinent.

When I write about an associative strategy, I am referring to one whereby you tune in to how you are; how you feel, how you think and how you are generally. This awareness is often considered unhelpful as it reminds us of pains and aches and tiredness, so many tend to favour dissociative strategies such as the one I use in another hypnosis audio track here.  I know people who count, who listen to music, who recall lists, who imagine past and future runs and all sorts of things as means of dissociative strategies.

The study suggests that too much dissociation, especially running through considerable pain using dissociation, can cause injury and cause us to ignore real-life issues and problems.

It is shown in the research that having an associative strategy is what helps many elite runners thrive and we’d be foolish not to learn from them. So simply follow the steps in this hypnosis audio track and develop your own associative cognitive strategy, and you can enhance your long training runs and race more effectively. You’ll be so pleased with the results.