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How to become a mentally tough runner

  • 2 min read

The mind plays a significant role in dictating your performance. How one run differs from another is often primarily due to psychological issues. One poor workout can cause doubtful thoughts and a lack of confidence which can impact subsequent runs. Mental resilience will enable you to perform to the best of your ability, regardless of external conditions or internal thoughts and emotions.

Visualise the route
Mentally prepare yourself by knowing the tough sections of your planned run; such as where the big hills, begin and end. With this knowledge you can prepare yourself for the incline and draw motivation from knowing how much further you have to go. Furthermore, by dividing your route into sections you experience a sense of achievement with every section you complete.

Especially pertinent when racing, plan what time you are going to wake up, what and when you are going to eat and when to arrive at the event area. As well as knowing how you plan to run your race, planning exactly what you will be doing beforehand will make you feel more in control and confident about the race to come.

Maintain positive thoughts
Before your run take the time to identify your thoughts. Are you feeling positive about it? Are you confident in your ability to achieve the goal you have set yourself? Or are you having doubtful thoughts? Are there a number of other things you would rather be doing at this point in time?

Knowing exactly what you’re about to do and why will help you generate and maintain positive thoughts. You will have better control over your performance if you maintain positive thoughts throughout your run.

Visualise your success
Visualisation of your success can have a huge impact on performance.

During training runs visualise yourself feeling strong as you run your target race, with power in your legs, smoothly and effortlessly running at the pace you planned.  Take it one step further and see yourself crossing the finish line – finishing strong hitting your target time with ease.

If you struggle to visualise your future success, generate positive energy by replaying in your mind a previous run or training session which went particularly well.

Be prepared for surprises
What if the weather is worse than you expected? What if you’ve started out too fast? Visualise these problems, think about how they will make you feel and what your plan of action will be. If you’re prepared for how you will feel if things go wrong and you know what you will do to rectify it you will avoid negative thoughts impacting your performance.

Repeat mantras
High confidence is conducive of high performance. Stand in front of a mirror and repeat to yourself a phrase that will produce positive thoughts and energy. For example:

I am confident, capable and focused

Once your mind believes it, so will your body.

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