I recently saw a runner’s T-shirt that said, “Running is a mental sport. We’re all insane!” Obviously it was meant to be funny, but the first part of the quote is certainly true. Whether you’re on the dreadmill, doing a long run, or running a race, you’ll most likely have those moments when you feel like you have nothing left mentally. Try some of these mental tricks to push through the rough patches.
1. Use a running mantra.
Pick a short phrase that really gets you pumped and keep repeating it to yourself (or out loud, if you don’t mind some curious looks). Mantras really come in handy when you’re dealing with a little discomfort or facing a monster hill. One of my favorites: “Dig deep.” Get more suggestions for running mantras.
2. Count your stride turnover.
Something as simple as counting can be the perfect distraction. Tally how many times one foot hits the ground in a minute, then double that number to get your stride count. Do several stride counts during your run and see if you can improve your efficiency (the more strides, the better).
3. Talk positive.
Negative thoughts can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you start telling yourself how bad you feel, it’s tough to break away from the feeling. Even if you’re suffering, tell yourself things like, “I’m feeling good today.” You’ll eventually start to believe it.
4. Plan your treat.
Think about that post-run smoothie, late-afternoon nap, or dinner out at a restaurant. No matter how you reward yourself after a run, visualizing it can push you through a tough spot. Need some ideas for post-run treats? Check out some of these.
5. Play the “this could be worse” game.
When I’m having a rough mile, I think of things I could be doing that are way more undesirable than running, like going to the dentist, changing my son’s diaper, or cleaning the bathroom. Before I know it, I realize how lucky I am to be running and the pain or boredom somehow disappears.