The Mental Side of Running

When it comes to running a race, your mental toughness can be just as important as your physical preparedness. Technique will only take you so far. I hear so many runners talk about finding their “flow state” run; or basically learning to run in the zone. In this zone, running will not only be pleasing, but often your best performance. Being mentally prepared for a race, or running in general, may be the key element missing from finding pleasure in your runs or making your PR time.

What is mental toughness?

We are often faced with obstacles or experiences that cause discomfort. Our mental toughness defines HOW we respond to these obstacles and is composed of our thoughts, feelings, and attitudes toward the challenge. One who is mentally tough will have the capacity to perform optimally despite external conditions, emotions or distractions. Mental toughness is a skill set and is key to the development of endurance athletes.

“One who is mentally tough will have the capacity to perform optimally despite external conditions, emotions or distractions.”

How to Build Mental Toughness

The good news is you can build this skill. Here are my top 4 tips on how to be mentally tough in running.

  1. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness, an increased awareness of your present moment, is beneficial in many circumstances. In running, it gives you an advantage by increasing your ability to be in tune with your own body and how to limit distractions.

  1. Visualize the end point

Take some time each day to rehearse your goal. First, create a vivid image in your mind of what you want to achieve in your running. Then carry the positive feeling with you. Also, recall bits and pieces of your experiences throughout the day to use for critique and inspiration.

  1. Use positive self-talk

Using positive affirmations tend to have a calming and uplifting effect on your mental state. Before your next run, try repeating the phrase “I am in my element and fully engaged in my run,“ or “Going fast feels effortless,” or “I am strong and I project confidence and energy.” This self pep talk will help you regulate your emotions so you can focus your energy on the task at hand.

  1. Practice

Anything that takes skill, can be improved through practice. Commit to mental strength training and you will train your self to think and respond differently. With practice and dedication, thinking and visualizing your success will become second nature.

Whether beginner or experienced, finding pleasure in running may make all the difference. Now that we are weeks away from Run Nona, take the next step in your routine with mental toughness training. Stay tuned to Endurance Wellness + Weight Loss for more helpful tips and strategies to support you along the way.