“A new study has determined that narrowing your focus in on one object in the distance while running can actually make you run faster, with less strain.” (askmen.com) The study also found that focusing ahead makes the distance appear shorter.
This technique is called “attention narrowing“. It’s a technique that I’ve used in the past without knowing it was actually “a thing” and have since focused on incorporating it more. I’ve used variations, like biking up a steep hill and focusing on the back wheel of my biking partner (aka my dad in Italy!). This helped me focus on one single thing and not think about how steep the hill was or how much further there was to go. All of my attention was on that back wheel and keeping up with the pace. Also, after reading about the particulars of this technique, while on a plane to Ecuador, I decided to put it consciously to the test while my husband, Joe, and I hiked up a mountain. Elevation can affect one’s ability to progress forward and make the simplest activity like walking feel like an almost impossible challenge. I narrowed my attention to the furthest point, usually a tree or light pole at the next bend in the road, and before I knew it we had reached the top.
So how can you incorporate this technique into your running? Focus on a specific object in the distance, like a building or a parked car, rather than looking at all of your surroundings. When you’ve reached that object or when it becomes awkward to focus on that object, find a new target in the distance to focus on. Keep refocusing on new objects in the distance as you reach your previous ones to keep you motivated and focused with your “eyes [always] on the prize”.
It’s really quite a simple technique that has impressive results. I guarantee if you try it the next time you’re out for a run you’ll notice a difference. Run a mile looking around or letting your mind wonder. Then, run a mile using the attention narrowing technique. What differences do you notice? Did you notice that the distance seemed shorter when you were focusing on an object in the distance? Did you run a slightly faster mile using the technique versus not? You might just be surprised. If you use this technique or after you try it, tell me about it in the comments! Happy running!
Another article that explains this technique: ‘Hate Running? Try This Science-Backed Trick To Make It Feel Easier’