Something you constantly hear athletes talking about in any sport is being in the zone. Although it means different things to different athletes in different sports, being in the zone in running means being able to go beyond what you would normally be able to run in either a workout or a race.
Any runner, who can attain this state of being in the zone, is virtually unbeatable and at the height of his/her running power. Being in the zone often translates into a peak workout or a PR race seeming remarkably easy, rather than hard.
Being in the zone, generally feels like you have an unusual amount of virtually effortless power which allows you to run all day, as if you were powered by a turbo-charged engine. In short, you are able to run or race with maximum results, but minimum energy.
Nice. Where can I get me some of that?
The strangest part about being in the zone is this powerful running doesn’t feel as if it is being controlled by the runner themselves. Instead, runners in the zone report that they often feel as if they weren’t responsible for the result at all. It’s as if their body was being guided and directed by a more powerful force which is exactly what is happening.
Almost every runner either has experienced this great feeling or soon will—even if it’s only fleeting. Afterward, they wonder, “How did I run so fast?”
This is the eternal mystery surrounding the zone: Why does it appear so briefly and why can’t I do it all the time? And what exactly is the powerful force which is guiding me during this period?
The answer is the sleeping giant that resides inside all us– the subconscious mind– the source of all bodily movement which also stores all past running memories and experiences.
When a runner is in the zone, their conscious mind becomes quiet (the normally busy, chattering mind we use all the time), and this allows their more powerful subconscious to run their performance on auto pilot, in the way a computer runs software.
This allows their running to flow much easier, effortlessly increasing speed stamina and power in a way that could never be matched by conscious thought.
This means that when you are in the zone, you have virtually no thought going through your mind whatsoever, your body is just moving on instinct and powered directly by your subconscious.
This is not to say that your body is moving without instruction. Just the opposite. It is simply getting its instructions from the more powerful and reliable subconscious.
So how do we get into the zone more often? Everyone must find the method that best suits their needs, but there are a few threads which run through most zoning experiences, such as running more instinctively than normal, almost without conscious direction or thought. The subconscious knows exactly what to do and advises your body constantly on the best course of action. This is most often brought on by a state of mental quietness which is actually a form of deep concentration.
Another words, don’t think. Don’t monitor how you feel. Just run.
Another way is to allow your running to flow naturally rather than forcing it, much like the Zen principle of less is more. Power and speed come from synchronizing into the perfect rhythm rather than from necessarily expending huge effort.
Running in the zone is a very powerful state, and can help you reach beyond your limitations to achievements you may have never realized were possible. Try it, explore it, master it and then show yourself what you can really do when you don’t limit yourself.
Too often we allow our brains to get in the way. Instead of trying to think your way around a course, allow your subconscious to be your guide.