March 11, 2011

Book Review: Mental Training for Runners – How to Stay Motivated by Jeff Galloway

“By using our body regularly and communicating with our spirit, we can be healthy and active”. Barbara Galloway – Forward

As Jeff brings to our attention early in the book, gentle running activates ‘feel good’ hormones within just minutes of starting out on a run. On the other hand, running hard and fast can bring on early fatigue, pain and put you at risk for injuries.

While I do believe there is a balance between gentle running and more aggressive running (Yasso’s, mile repeats, racing for a PR, etc), I am a huge proponent of running to feel good – no, GREAT; to understand yourself better physically, mentally and spiritually. The indisputable feelings of accomplishment and joy, made possible by YOU. Your motivation, your determination, your discipline.

I started a Galloway program in a local community because after many years of trying to be a consistent runner, Jeff’s run/walk/run method is the only training program I have been able to stick with, feel great both during and at the end of training sessions (when I’m in a healthy mental and physical state) and leave me coming back for more!

Several of Jeff’s published books have chapters on the subject of ‘mental trickery’ and visualization which I have used repeatedly in my transition to becoming a distance runner. This book is dedicated entirely to mental training and how to stay motivated.

A major message in this book emphasizes the undeniable connection between the mind and body, particularly as it relates to running. We are introduced to the interactions among various areas of brain, the mind as a whole and other essential elements, all of which act to “…constantly [monitor] external and internal stress and capabilities…”.  It is the interaction of these elements and systems (e.g. subconscious, conscious brain, left brain, hormones, etc) that have a considerable effect on motivation. We learn how our subconscious “Reflex Brain” triggers stress hormones which not only fuel negative thoughts and attitudes but also reduce blood flow to weaker parts of your body (injured areas– current or previous) resulting in pain. It is through mental training that we learn to stay in our conscious brain in order take conscious actions such as acknowledging and identifying your personal sources of stress.

He also offers specific tools and relatable situations to help runners control stress – most of which is self-perceived/self-imposed. Are you thinking to yourself “Guilty as charged!”? Me too. By rehearsing success, you can gain control over your subconscious.

The Inspirational Stories chapter (Chapter 13, pp 73-80) is just that. A woman with breast cancer who decided to get off the couch and get moving towards a happy and more energetic life; a woman who started running in her 60’s with her husband – eventually setting age group records into her late 80’s. These are just 2 of several 1st hand stories that brought tears to my eyes.

I encourage everyone to read this book. Whether you are an aspiring runner, a beginner, or an Ultra runner, we all go through the “blah’s”. Days when it seems impossible to get out the door, to find time to squeeze in a workout between your job, the kids and errands to do – whatever the case may be. It is through the use of the tools in this book that may just help you chase those “blah’s” away more often than not!

Happy Friday!!!


Gaby Hermida said...

Great review, Vera! I will look into getting a copy :)
At the moment I am resting the shins from running for a few weeks, but as soon as the body is ready, I will start the Galloway program. Thank you for inspiring me! :) xo

Liz Finch said...

Great post!!! You have a new follower btw, check out my blog!

Little Miss Runshine said...

I will have to check out this book!
Great review lady!
Have a great weekend!

Johann said...

Nice review. I certainly follow the gentle running approach as I'm so slow!:) To be honest, I love running so much I find I am always motivated. I do lots of mental endurance training. Long solo runs on the road and also long solo runs doing laps of 2.5km on the road. Usually these would be 6 - 7 hours. I see myself as strong mentally, but always wonder if I really am...?