I love this quote from Canadian distance runner Peter Maher:
“Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'”
“We’ve all had those days when the answer to that question is, “I’m a wimp today.” It’s tempting to give into feelings of laziness and fear, but there are things you can do to make yourself more resistant to those urges. Here are a few ideas on how to be a more resilient runner:
1. Focus on your weaknesses.
It sounds counterintuitive, but paying attention to your weak spots can help you get tougher. If you always fade on the hills, work some hill repeats into your training. If your form falls apart when you get tired, do more core strengthening to prevent yourself from hunching over during the later miles. If you always struggle during the last couple of miles of a half or full marathon, work on it by picking up the pace at the end of your long runs.
Not only will you become stronger physically, but facing your weaknesses head-on will improve your mental strength and confidence.
2. Run with a purpose.
If you’re running for the wrong reasons (like trying to impress someone) or for no reason at all, you’re more likely to give up when things get tough. Figure out your personal running motivation, such as improving your health, setting new personal records, reaching new distances, or getting some peaceful alone time. Pick some specific running goals that relate to your motivation. Having that inner motivation means you’ll care about what you’re fighting for and you’ll be more likely to tough it out.
3. Face your fears.
Are you scared to run in the rain? Do you worry about running in a crowded race? The best way to overcome your fears is to tackle them head-on. If you’re really nervous about taking on a new running challenge, ask a friend to do it with you. I had wanted to do an obstacle course for a long time but only had the motivation and nerve when my sister-in-law asked me to do one with her. Had I given into my fears, I would have missed out on a very fun and inspiring experience.
Get advice from fellow runners on how they deal with running anxiety and manage those situations. You may discover there was no reason to be worried and come out stronger on the other side.
4. Be a grateful runner.
Whenever I reach a point in a run or race when I’m suffering, I remember times when I’ve been injured and devastated about not being able to run. I think about people who can’t run and I’m thankful that I’m strong, healthy and able to run. I think about when I’ll reach that point when my body won’t let me run anymore. It helps me to live in the moment and appreciate being able to run. That usually gives me the emotional strength to dig a bit deeper and push through.”