We’ve all heard it before. It’s 90% mental, 10% physical. Or something to that extent. The point is, running is a HUGE mental game. Some days I’m really good at it and some days I’m just not. In the same way that you’re building mileage or adding weight to that bar, mental toughness is something that develops over time and requires work. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they wish they liked running more and I really, truly believe building your mental toughness is a big step toward LOVING RUNNING. Cause folks…it’s the best!
Here are 5 tips to help you out:
1) Take it in Stride (see what I did there?)
But seriously though. If I’m on a run and I really want to stop, I’ll break down my workout into smaller, more manageable pieces. So rather than think “I still have 7 of 8 miles left” I try to think more along the lines of “Just make it through this next song”, “1 more mile until I’m half way done. Then I just do what I already did one more time”, “Just run to that tree….ok good. Now make it to that lamp-post. Awesome! When you get to that blue car you can think about stopping…psych! No stopping! Now run to that street sign”. So I try to play mind games on myself…so what?! The point is I am putting my run into smaller pieces that I know I can definitely handle and then making myself keep achieving each little one. Before I know it, the workout is over.
2) Find a Mantra
This may sound silly but it really does work for me. Here are some sample mantras that I’ve used in the past (the way I say it is set to the pace of my running).
“You can do it! You can do it!”
“90% mental, 10% physical”
“The mind is stronger than the boodddddyyyy” (yeah body is dragged out like that in my rhythm)
“Just keep running. Just keep running”
“You are strong! You are powerful!”
“Go Alyssa Go!” (yeah, sometimes I’m my own cheerleader. which leads me to my next tip)
3) Pep Talk Yourself
I’m dead serious. If you don’t believe you can do something, guess what? You’re right. So when you’re starting to feel low on gas and you need some encouragement, give yourself a pep talk! I really do believe that there is so much power in positive thinking. You’ll go so much further not only in your workouts, but in life!, if you have a positive attitude.
Your pep talk might go something like this “Come on, Alyssa! You’ve got this! You are a runner. Some people are still in bed, sleeping, but no, you are out here, running. You’re enjoying this beautiful morning, in the nice crispy morning air in this amazing valley that you live in. You are so lucky! Come on, Alyssa! Let’s go!”
4) Rest Days
Please don’t feel that in order to be a legit runner, you need to be running miles and miles every day. This is false. In fact, you should have at least one or two (or however many you need that week!!) rest days every week. It’s HEALTHY!!! It’s good for your body to recover and it’s good for your sanity. Otherwise, you’ll risk burn out and end up hating running. That just breaks my little heart.
5) Just Don’t Do It
If you want to stop, don’t. If you need to slow down, fine but don’t stop. If you know in your heart that you could do this without slowing down, don’t slow down either. No matter how you’re feeling (unless you are pushing yourself to an unhealthy extent. please don’t do that) YOU ARE ULTIMATELY IN CHARGE OF YOUR BODY! So no matter what you think it’s telling you, your body is actually a heck of a lot stronger than you think it is. The body is actually kind of a wuss. So instead listen to mister brain that says “No way! You can keep going. Body is a liar! A weak liar!” Then you’ll become stronger and no matter when you face your mental toughness breakdown, whether on a training run or during a race, you’ll be able to conquer it, because you already have in the past.
Once you’re able to take charge of your mind, you’ll be able to turn just about any tough run into at least a better, if not a fantastic run. Remember, some days are just hard. Some days, running is going to not feel so fun. But those days are few and far between and they’re great opportunities to practice your mental toughness. You can do it! You’ve got this 🙂
What do you do to work on your mental toughness?
What do you do on days that are mentally, really difficult runs?