A recent study published in Motivation and Emotion showed that when you focus your attention to one subject during exercise, you'll not only perform better, but your workout will seem faster and even potentially easier. The researchers had people walk wearing ankle weights while focusing on a cone in the distance. Those who focused while walking reported the cone to seem 28 percent closer, and they also walked 23 percent faster than those who let their minds wander.
Practicing mindfulness during a run—such as focusing on your breath or footfalls, or keeping your eye on a distant target—could have similar beneficial effects. Here are five ways to minimize distractions so you can focus better on your next run.
Step to the Beat1 of 6
Top runners have been downloading a metronome app—typically used to help musicians maintain certain rhythms—and using it to time their stride during training. The repetitive tick-tock is soothing and helps you maintain your pace without much thought. There are several apps available; one is even called Metronome.
Create a Playlist2 of 6
Compile a mix of your favorite workout tunes and have it ready to go pre-run so you can just hit 'Play' and go. You can time your songs to phases of your workout or different training speeds, too.
Turn Off Your Phone3 of 6
And we don't mean just the ringer. Even a vibrating phone can pull your mind out of your workout. You can keep it on to play music or your metronome, but switch your phone into airplane mode to stave off interruptions.
Mind Your Gear4 of 6
This might seem like a no-brainer, but remember to double-knot your shoelaces, wear socks that won't slip, and sport a well-fitting bra so the straps stay up. While you're at it, wear breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics so you can stay comfortable and cool during your run.
Stay Safe5 of 6
While you want to zone in and zone out, it's important to remember your environment. If you're using headphones, use only one ear bud or keep the volume low enough to hear cars. And if you're running at night, be sure to wear reflective gear so you can be seen.