When you have that long cardio session be it on a treadmill or cross-trainer or the dreaded rowing machine how often do you mentally give up before your body does? When you finish your cardio for the day do you truly have nothing left in the tank or did your mind stop you early? For most of us the annoyance that we mentally stopped before we should have is great. What is the solution? Distraction.
How do you distract yourself when you are exercising? There are a couple methods that can work for you. The trick is to find out which works for you and in what way. They have one similarity and that is that it mostly comes from the ears. If you are luck enough to be using a cardio machine that has a screen that distracts you too then great! But for most of us the only option we have is what we listen to.
The go-to option we have is to simply put music on and go. This works for some especially those who have just started exercising but for the medium to seasoned veterans that simply doesn't work any more. Yes you are in the majority of people who are struggling to find something to keep them going mentally whilst physically their body is going and going until it can do no more. There is a solution and here are a couple that definitely work;
1. Distraction via concentration; this works by concentrating not on how much you have left to do or at what speed you are going at but by your breathing. TDL Fitness articles on focusing on breathing whilst exercising are available for you and it is a perfect way of training you to focus on breathing rather than how tired you think you feel (check out the 'Related Posts to find out more). Focusing on breathing with the help of music that fits its beat with your breathing and running can keep you distracted and keeps your cardio constant tiring you out much less than jerky cardio that can do physical damage as well as mentally weakening you faster than ever. Focusing on breathing with the help of music can keep you going well after you would originally mentally stop because you are focused on breathing. Breathing is what keeps you physically going and keeps the heart rate down. If you can focus solely on the one thing that physically keeps you going then you will have fused mental and physical strength in that time you are doing your cardio. If you can train yourself to do this then cardio not only becomes easier, it becomes efficient, you know your limitations much better and getting off the cardio machine after will feel so good. You will feel as if you have just come out of a coma! This can work also if you are falling asleep at work. Focus on breathing and BAM you can go on physically!
2. Distraction via media; this works by listening to something completely different than workout or cardio music. Listening to your favourite radio show, listening/watching live sport or to anything else can distract you from your cardio. Taking the mind off how long you have left and how tired you think you feel is the priority and listening to something else that makes you almost forget you are exercising mentally can help you physically go that extra mile or row that extra 5 minutes more. The mind is powerful and if it is focused on how England is doing in the cricket or how the mighty Arsenal is doing in the football or what that idiot Piers Morgan thinks of Brexit can stimulate the mind into thinking less about how tired you are. When you are doing cardio you are trying to push your body to go further than it thinks it can. If the mind is not thinking how far it can and should go then your body takes over and goes as far as it can. There you have distraction and a physically efficient workout without the mind holding you back.
These two distraction methods are varied and how it works for you is completely up to your discretion. The main thing is to stop the brain thinking of how far you have to go and how you think you feel. When you do a bleep test (cardio test to failure) you often stop way before your body needs to stop because your mind takes over when you get tired. Your mind is trying to protect you and so stops you going over what you and it thinks you can do. Distracting it is the only way for mere mortals like ourselves to keep going until we physically can do no more. Achieving this will make cardio more fun, more efficient and crucially it will make more of a difference to you to believe more in yourself and less in the limitations we perceive and put on ourselves. Distraction is a method, the result is more of a lesson learned than distraction achieved.