Just like with physical training, mental training takes concerted effort. Let’s look at 3 ways to improve your running mindset:
When I hear non-runners describe their dislike of running, what’s the rationale 90% of the time? They think running is boring.
That’s a mindset problem and it’s not limited to non-runners! Here are 3 ways to improve your running mindset:
Own your thoughts
If you subscribe to the idea that you are in control of your thoughts, it will serve you in life. This stance allows you to take control of the feelings that arise as a result of those thoughts.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or scared about a run it is probably tied back to a thought you have about not being good enough or not worthy of being fit.
You must change that inner dialogue!
When you feel intimidated, it’s because you had a thought that created that feeling. Change the conversation!
If you have a negative thought, you can learn to flip it into something positive! Fact: your mind can only have a single thought at a time so you need to make it positive.
Specific to running mindset, a lot of people find it helpful to break down overwhelming goals to smaller, more manageable pieces. This allows the thoughts surrounding a task to change.
For example, try mentally breaking a 10 mile run into 4, 3, 3. Then, owning a thought process that says “this will make me strong” is more genuine!
Power words and phrases
A lot of people ascribe a lot of meaning to mantras, power words, or power phrases for running mindset. The idea is that when the going gets rough in workouts or races, you repeat to yourself a word or phrase that you’ve decided will help you through the rough spots.
It can be empowering, and it also requires that you become your biggest advocate and cheerleader, exercising those positive thoughts to create positive feelings.
Power words and phrases can include sentiments like pick em up, put em down, give more, or keep swimming. Obviously, they are individual to you, so your power word or phrase will likely be different from others’.
You may even wearing your power words or phrases as a necklace or as a bracelet will give you an additional boost from the visual. You can’t hit a target you can’t see!
Running can be empowering and uplifting, but it can also be humbling and sometimes make you question your life’s decisions.
Remember, not every run will change your life. When things get really bad, remember what brought you to this sport in the first place. Maybe you wanted to complete a distance one time, as a bucket list thing, and you got hooked; maybe you wanted to lose weight and in the process discovered a healthy lifestyle for the first time ever; or maybe you started running for significance, as a way to raise funds or awareness for a particular cause that’s dear to you.
Whatever your reason, everyone has a “why” in running. We all began somewhere, and we all continue for different reasons.
Your “why” can change, too- for example, I started running as a way to stay occupied on the weekend in my 20s and now my “why” has more to do with preserving alone time as a busy Mom and modeling healthy behavior for my kids.
If you feel like your running mindset has a become toxic environment, remember what brought you to this sport and why you keep doing it. A little reflection will go a long way and you’ll realize your true capablities by revisiting “why”.
Dig a little deeper
As with physical training, mental training takes concerted effort. I encourage you to read what’s out there if you want to go deeper on this subject. While I am not a sports psychologist, there have been many books written alongside them that could help:
My recommendations: How Bad Do You Want It? (Matt Fitzgerald) and Grit (Angela Duckworth).