iOS/Android: When I run, my inner monologue sounds like an argument between a good coach and a bad coach. One voice tells me to take it easy, find my best pace, not to look at my watch, just find the right level of effort. Then the other voice butts in to say something like “Oh, look at you, running so slow, and you’re already tired! You suck!”
A lot of my training over the years has depended on reining in the bad coach and choosing, tentatively, to put my faith in the good one. That’s why I’m totally in love with Slow Down 2 Speed Up, one of three new mindful running tracks in the (free) Nike Run Club app. Nike coach Chris Bennett joins forces with Andy Puddicombe, the voice of Headspace, and they guide you through faster and faster intervals while asking you to pay attention to your body and mind. But they don’t duel like the coaches in my head; they’re both endlessly supportive.
In other words, it’s the good half of my internal monologue. The arsehole voice is gone.
During the entire run, from the easy warmup to the final 30-second interval at a blazing “celebration pace,” you’ll never feel like a failure for running slow or being tired, and you’ll never go “ugh, again?” when it’s time to pick up some speed. Just put your mental monologue in the coaches’ hands, and they will make sure you find the right rhythm in both your body and your mind.
The benefits are physical as well as mental. In running, it’s important to learn your fast, slow, and medium paces so you can get the most out of every workout and pace yourself correctly in a race. When you’re tuned in to the rhythm of your feet and your breath as you practice different effort levels (“you’re aiming for a six out of ten,” the coaches might say), you find each of your personal sweet spots. That’s valuable knowledge for later, even if you never run with this track again. But I just might hit “play” again, the next time I want a hard workout I can finish with a smile.