Running has been described as a mental sport. While your body must be fit enough to run, when it comes to completing long distance runs or holding a hard pace in a race, it’s really your brain that plays the deciding role.
It always amazes me how easy it is for my brain to derail a race or a run. That constant voice in my head saying that I can’t do this or that I need to slow down. Even in races that I run as planned (or faster), that voice is present. The difference is that I’ve actively fought with that voice and won. I channel that feeling I have on a bad run and remind myself that I’ve felt worse. I tell myself that I can keep running.
I chant various mantras in my head:
- Suck it up, Buttercup.
- Run the mile you are in.
- Hell, run the block you are in.
- You can do this for now.
- But did you die?
- You can breathe when you are done.
- Relentless forward motion.
I often run races a bit undertrained. People tell me I do well with that because I have a good running base. Really though, I think I do well because I believe I can do it. I KNOW I can go the distance. And I’ll keep going until I finish. A little bit of stubborn goes a long ways too LOL.
How do you stay mentally strong in a run or race? Join us for Tuesdays on the Run and tell us.
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14 thoughts on “Exercising your mental muscle”
That voice!! Oh, how I hate that self-defeating voice. But that self-talk really is effective. One thing I find has worked in my last couple of races especially towards the end is: “3km left?? Is that all? You just ran that on Tuesday and it was easy.”
Those are some good mantras. Its so true that if we believe we can do something we are so much more likely to be successful.
Life would be far easier if I could run races undertrained! I guess if I ran marathons it would be far easier to run a half without the training; but since I don’t, I won’t.
But mental strength is everything in running!
I think having running/racing experience builds confidence because you know you CAN finish. But yes, holding a certain pace requires some mental tenacity. I ran some of my PRs by not looking at my watch. I tend to limit myself by picking a goal pace that is slower than my ability.
I love that quote from Dean! I think I do many races under trained. I think that may be better than over training. That way you are not burn out! Like you said if you have a good base with running, you will be able to tackle a lot more!
I love that you have mantras that you use to help you mentally. I need to come up with some for my next race! I have a half marathon and an 8K this weekend and with the weather forecast looking hot and steamy, I know I’m going to need some help mentally getting through it!
The experts all say that it’s better to be undertrained than overtrained. I think you’re onto something–you’ve had some great success!
Mental challenge is half the battle in running- I’m definitely going to have to tap into my mental strength while training this summer for the marathon. Summer training is tough! Basically I talk to myself on the run too though- using some of the same mantras you posted above.
I m similar. I do not train as well as I know I should be a race. But I still run them because I know I can finish. It’s all mental.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. I may be running, but I sometimes have Dory’s voice in my head.
I have been working on this a lot this year and I do believe I’ve made some great strides (pun intended)
I think believing in yourself is so important. I had a pretty challenging 12 miler this past week and I definitely had some doubts that I’d be able to execute the workout, but I believed in myself, stayed positive, and had a good run!
I love the mantras. I think they do help push you past that point where you think you cannot go faster or further. Acutally yesterday I was at the gym and in the empty studio was a girl wearing headphones and doing her own workout. And she kept saying to herself “Come on Cassy!” You can do it, Cassy” “Keep pushing, you are almost there”. It was funny but so awesome! lol
SO MUCH YES TO THE SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP!!
I even have the tee 🙂