Mental Toughness

We are starting to get into our longer runs and our bodies have gotten used to the physical stress. Now is the time to work on the mental aspect of running. Committing to a program and setting goals takes a lot of hard work and determination. We have made that promise to ourselves and are doing the work but sometimes our thinking can get in the way of our goals. We might decide to sleep in instead of getting up for the run—rationalizing that we will get it in later. (We always regret missing a run and never regret when we show up.) We choose to cut our long run short—rationalizing that we don’t have a goal race and so it doesn’t matter. (We miss out on that extra fat burn.) We don’t show up for the hills because they are hard—rationalizing that when we do run a race, it won’t have hills like the ones in Lakewood. (These “speed” workouts make us stronger so that our easy runs are easier.) We skip the track workout—rationalizing that we are fine with running our easy pace in the race. (We might grow to love something that we didn’t love before.) We don’t come out to run in the rain and cold---rationalizing that it will be unbearable. (Showing up for those runs helps us learn to run in any condition—and easily get through it.) I could go on….

We need to continue to build a high level of self-motivation. We have to wake up each morning, ready and willing to do the work, even when we are tired and stressed, when conditions aren’t ideal and when we don’t like the workout that is planned. What I love about running with a group is that we can support each other through it all.

You have the foundation to build upon:

  • Love of running – you have chosen this form of exercise to keep yourself fit and healthy. Remember when you first started? Think back to the reason that you signed up. You had a goal. For me, I had just turned 40 and wanted to be fit for the first time in my life. I also wanted to hike the Mont Blanc mountain range in Europe. Each day when I got up to run, I thought of those goals and soon enough, my love for running grew. What is your story?
  • Determination – you come out to run even when you are tired or aren’t feeling your best. You continually push yourself to run more miles, increase your pace and run the next race. You might have encountered obstacles along the way—an injury, tough work schedule, family commitments—but yet, you still coming back. The hard work has paid off. Reflect on how far you have come!
  • Discipline and consistency - you continue to practice, practice, practice until you have mastered it. The more you run, the easier it becomes. Your hard work pays off in more ways than one.
  • Faith in yourself – you came to this class knowing that you can tackle these workouts. You know that you can physically get through it. Keep that faith!

So, how do you get through those days when you don’t feel like showing up? How do you finish a run, when you feel like there is nothing left in the tank?

  • Think positively. Find your own personal mantra and repeat it to yourself. Be grateful for all kinds of weather. Look around and take in the beauty of nature. Be thankful for having a healthy body that allows you to be physically active. Think about the people that inspire you—whether they are fellow runners or elite athletes. Run the mile you are in and enjoy it.
  • Visualize the end result. On race day, see yourself crossing the finish line with a huge smile on your face and getting the medal you worked so hard for. Think of your family and friends cheering you on and the sense of pride they feel that you did it! On training days, think how great you are going to feel at the end when you finish strong. Keep replaying that vision in your mind when it starts to wander to negative thinking.
  • Focus and set your intention for the run. Take an aspect of your running and make that a focus for the day. Keep revisiting that aspect throughout the run. Some ideas are breathing, vertical oscillation and cadence.

Know that where the mind goes, the body follows. Building mental toughness is helpful in reaching your full potential of physical limits. Be the cheerleader for yourself that you are for others. Every single day, get out of bed and say “I can do this!”