How to stay “In it to Win it” Throughout Your Entire Run!

How to stay “In it to Win it” Throughout Your Entire Run!

Have you ever found your mind wandering during a training run? Or, have you ever been so frustrated mid-run that you talked yourself into a negative performance? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, you’re not alone. The mind is a powerful thing that can literally make or break a run, which is why mental toughness is crucial during a race, or during any run for that matter. In fact, it requires just as much training as the physical aspects of running, if not more. The other thing about your mindset is that it doesn’t matter how fast you are, how long you’ve been running, or how many races you’ve completed, it will always be a factor and there will always be room to improve.

At the end of the day remember this: Some days you’ll have it, other days you won’t, but it is important to stay focused and keep practicing so that there are more days where you DO have it than where you don’t! Below are a few steps to help you get there:

1) Live by Austin Netzley’s words of wisdom: “Don’t listen to yourself, talk to yourself”. If you speak positively to yourself and tell yourself you can, you will! If you speak negatively, it is more likely that you’ll talk yourself into a bad attitude or negative performance. The moment you start thinking negatively, swap it out for something positive. The brain latches on to negative words faster, so it is important to keep every word in the sentence positive. Instead of saying “don’t quit” say “keep going”. Focus all of your energy into talking yourself up, and watch how much you succeed!

2) Sometimes, talking to yourself isn’t enough and that’s okay. The next step is to distract the mind! Take the focus off of running and onto something else. Below are a few ideas on how you can distract yourself just enough to keep going and pass the miles by a bit faster:
a) Listen to a podcast. This could be something motivational, like one of these 35 running podcasts, or it could be purely entertaining. There are also many great podcasts out there in various categories like fiction, talk shows, news reports, true crime (check out Rabia & Ellyn Solve the Case for a really fun True Crime talk show), rewatch podcasts for your favorite TV/Movie series, and more!
b) Listen to an audio book. Audible has a wide variety, and they even have podcasts, too! Get lost in a new fiction book, or listen to a book about running – again the possibilities are endless.
c) Find a friend. Running goes by quickly when you have someone to chat with. Plus, this will help ensure you are not overtraining and are staying in your true conversation pace during long-runs or recovery days!
d) Try a guided run. Apps like Nike Run Club or Peloton have guided runs that are instructor led. These are great for interval training and provide a great blend of music and motivation to keep you going!

3) If you “hit a wall”, meaning you hit a point of extreme physical fatigue, don’t let your mind also hit the wall. Instead, refocus on one thing that you can control, and put all of your mental energy toward that thing. For example, if you’re in the middle of a run and start questioning your capabilities, zone in on your breathing. Think about 3 steady counts in and 3 steady counts out. Stay focused on this until you feel back in control. Another area of focus is posture. Think about standing up tall, opening up your stride, and pumping your arms. This will give you a renewed sense of energy and power!
a) NOTE: You can practice this even when you’re not running by meditating daily. Try a guided meditation that will help you focus on breathwork and other concepts that can be carried into your runs.

4) Last but not least, remember your goals and your “why”. There’s an old saying that rings true here: “when your legs can’t run anymore, run with your heart. Not every run will be perfect, but staying consistent and showing up even on the days where you don’t want to is all part of the process of becoming physically and mentally strong. The runs we want to do the least are the runs we need to do the most, as they help us become mentally tough. Stay focused on one step at a time, one training run at a time, and eventually this mindset will carry over with you on race day to help you reach all of your PR goals, and then some!

We hope this helps you become both mentally and physically stronger in this 2023 season. Happy Running!

Written by: Ashley Morrison

Ashley has over 18 years of running and racing experience and is both NASM CPT and RRCA Certified. For more running tips and tricks, find Ashley at Run With Ashley on Instagram or on her website and blog.

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