A way to help you deal with thoughts around the urge to slow down or stop is planningwhat you will do when these thoughts arise. You may not be able to avoid having these thoughts, but you can put a strategy in place as to how you will deal with it. We will introduce you to strategies that you can use for when these thoughts around stopping or slowing down arise.  


Before you have a go at the different strategies, we want to tell you about implementation intentions, or if-then planning, as this forms the basis of dealing with thoughts around the urge to slow down or stop. The idea behind this is that you mentally prepare a response for when critical situations arise. That is, you can identify critical future situations, and learn to associate an action to this critical future situation to help you with the process of achieving a goal.


Here is an example:  You have a long training run planned, and while you are half way through the run the wind is picking up and your legs feel tired. In your head you are thinking, ‘I want to pack up and go home’. This thought about wanting to pack up and go home is an example of that urge to slow down or stop. If you know that a thought like this can occur you can plan a strategy as to what you will do. For example: 


If the urge to slow down comes to mind: Then I will focus on my stride


This way of preparing your response for a situation is called if-then planning. We have identified a range of strategies that you can use for the ‘then’. These are goal-setting, using strategic self-talk, associative strategies, use of caffeine, cues to keep moving efficiently, re-perceiving your thoughts (re-appraisal), relaxation strategies, and pacing strategies. 


Consider the questions below on when you can implement these strategies. 


  1. When do you tend to have thoughts around the urge to slow down or stop?

  2. In those instances, what are the responses that you can tap into? That is, what can you can do when the ‘if’ happens? 

    1. You can consider: Specific words or phrases that you can repeat to yourself

    2. Visualizing yourself performing well

    3. Focusing on your breathing

    4. Encouraging yourself to relax physically

    5. Ensuring back up plans for nutrition/hydration or mechanical issues 


Once you have identified strategies that you can use for your if-then plan, you will need to start practicing this.  Using an if-then plan is a skill that is developed through practice, like a physical skill. By practicing, it becomes more automatic and natural. This means that when you encounter a critical situation or difficulty, you have already a response ready.


When using if-then plans, try out one or two at the time, rather than overwhelming yourself with too many different options. 


Once you have looked at the strategies and identified some options, on your next training run:


  1. Remind yourself of your chosen plan. You can write them down, and have them somewhere prominent where you can see them. 

  2. During the training sessions, use your if-then plan whenever the thought around the urge to slow down or stop arises. 

  3. It might be the case that your critical situation does not occur during the next training session, and feel free to change the if-then plan when you find it too hard, or when you have chosen a critical situation you know does not occur that often. 

  4. If you found a particular if-then plan unhelpful, consider replacing it and practicing a different plan instead during your next session. Do remember that it can take time to practice the plans.

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