The mental challenge of long runs and races can be as tough as the physical demands of
the distance. Your running journey may start okay, but now you’re barely halfway through
and already feel like you have nothing left mentally. Sounds familiar? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there, it is common to feel that way.
A common phrase, “Mind Over Matter”, may seem simple but of course, that’s easier said
than done. For it to work, as a runner you need to have an action plan to win the mental
With mental tricks, it can improve your confidence, help you stay focused, and even boost your performance during your next long run or marathon.
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The first step is to notice the arrival of the feeling of weariness or thoughts of negativity. We may experience it differently but the ultimate impact is the same. Here are 5 mental
strategies to push you further during your runs.
1. Use a mantra
Using a running mantra during your long runs or training will come in handy during harder
days. Think about what motivates you and fires you up, always keep your running mantra
positive. For instance, saying positive phrases such as, “I feel good” or “Keep going”. Your mind will eventually start to believe it.
However, if you let negative thoughts, such as, “I feel tired” or “ I’m never going to finish this run”, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In short, pick a short motivational phrase that works best for you!
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2. Plan your post-run treats
A rewarding way to complete long runs is to plan your treats. Think about the post-run meal, snack, or nap. You can use a reward system too, such as, if you make it another 5k you can visit your favorite dessert shop, or for each additional mile upgrade your reward.
It doesn’t matter how you reward yourself after a run, visualizing it might be all you need to push through a tough spot.
3. Check-in on your posture
When you’re feeling down during your runs, it shows in the body posture. You may look
deflated. Hence, check in with your running posture, put on a fake smile, and imagine the
person in front of you is pulling you along by a string. Having the mindset of being pulled
along, rather than pushing yourself makes it easier to complete the race.
After a few minutes of imagining a comfortable run, you will have a more relaxed and
positive mindset, making running lighter and easier.
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4. Find a distraction
Besides focusing on your running form throughout, distracting yourself from the run may be what you need to finish the hurdle. For some runners, it can be listening to their favorite
songs or podcast. For others, it can be as simple as counting strides each minute.
Find a distraction of your choice and start playing it when you feel like you need to stop
thinking about when you will finish your run or race.
5. Running in a group
Lastly, find a friend or a running group to join during your runs, having someone to keep you company, or to join you for a couple of miles is an extra motivation to push you further. If a real-life running buddy is not possible, consider calling a friend over Bluetooth headphones or simply checking in via text before and after your runs.
To be a better runner, recognizing these moments arriving and having plans to counter them is a part of the running journey.
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