Strength and endurance aren’t the only things runners need to focus on during their training—it’s also necessary to develop mental strength. Even if they hit all the marks during physical training while preparing for the next race, many runners still fall short when it comes to their metal strength. Whether it’s settling for a less-than-ideal time or balking at your goal pace, these thoughts will negatively impact your performance during the run. Thankfully, like any skill, metal strength can be improved through training to ensure you’re physically and mentally prepared to crush your next race.
Mental training isn’t just for race day. We’ve all done it before: practice time rolls around, and we frantically search for any excuse to skip the day’s run. For those days when running is the last thing you want to do, hone in on your “why,” the reason you run in the first place. Whether you’re running for a cause, to beat your previous time, or to lose weight, be specific, and focus on your “why” while you prepare for your run. When you know why you’re doing something, it often makes it much easier to figure out how you’ll achieve it.
On the days when we feel unmotivated and unwilling, it’s easy to be hard on ourselves, but negativity does nothing to motivate us. Instead, practice positive self-talk in those difficult moments—research has shown that this practice can improve endurance and power in athletes. Combat your negative, doubtful thoughts with positive statements: “I am strong,” “I will beat my time,” “I’ve done this before, and I’ll do it again.” When you find a phrase that motivates you, turn it into a mantra to repeat during the more difficult sections of your run.
Some of the world’s best runners utilize mental training to visualize their successes. Identify what success looks like for you—is it placing first or beating your goal time? Be specific when you visualize, planning for every part of your run, like your route, the weather, and your running buddy. Look ahead for potential obstacles and setbacks and visualize how you’ll overcome them. With a specific visualization of success in mind, you’ll be more prepared when race day arrives.
Building mental toughness isn’t easy, but it’s an essential part of training for runners that helps ensure we meet our goals. We all struggle to remain motivated, but being proactive with your training allows you to overcome. If you need more advice on building mental strength while you run, contact us today.