There is a great article in the NY Times about the mental tricks people play on themselves to perform better. I particularly love the guys who focuses on his shadow while running. (Unless its cloudy!)
Dr. Morgan, who tested the method in research studies, said he was inspired by a story, reported by an anthropologist that, he suspects, is apocryphal. It involves Tibetan monks who reportedly ran 300 miles in 30 hours, an average pace of six minutes a mile. Their mental trick was to fixate on a distant object, like a mountain peak, and put their breathing in synchrony with their locomotion. Every time a foot hit the ground they would also repeat a mantra.
I remember while training for Grandma’s Marathon, my long weekend runs would take me through the arboretum. By the time I got there, it was usually miles 10-18. I was so tired and all I would do was count my breath. In, one. Out, one. In, two. Out, two. The whole time I would stare at the gravel ahead of my feet. Before I knew it, I’d be at the turn around point, wondering how I got there.
The mind is an amazing thing. Today, I am grateful for the image of those monks, running through the Himalayas focused on a far away peak.