…e Jackson has shown through research that flow is also associated with better physical performance. In studies of cross-country runners and cyclists, she’s found that when athletic skills are being challenged in a competitive environment, those who enter flow are more likely to perform better. Another study by Nektarios Stavrou, a sports psychologist at the University of Athens, Greece, asse…
Jeremy Sutton, PhD
Jeremy, I am a seasoned Cross Country runner and marathoner. Running Boston next year and qualified with a time of 2:40 in Savannah. I have been asked on many occasions whether I get a runner’s high while running, or during the marathon, that makes running in itself a more pleasant and “flow” activity.
While starting running back up after a hiatus, the short answer is no. Absolutely not. The first couple days running again are some of the most unpleasant you have.
But after you run more consistently and build a better aerobic base, and acclimate your mind and body to the activity, you get runner’s highs more often, especially towards the end of runs. So here we are also more likely to enter flow when we perform better, but in my line of exercise and competition, you have to acclimate yourself to, well, feeling like shit and pushing yourself far outside your comfort zone before you attain a “flow” state.
It’s like anything where when you first start out, you’re terrible at it. Ask any teenager when they first start driving. But once you put in consistent effort outside your comfort zone, it gets easier, and you start getting in the “flow” state.
So people hitting the gym on January 1 after a several month hiatus shouldn’t be expecting to hit the “flow” state right away — you have to work for it.