There are many times in your running training where you have to push the limits. These sessions can often be just as hard on the mind than on the body, so here are some mental tricks to help you get through to the end!
Focus on each component, not the full session
Don’t think about your training session as a whole. Break the run down mentally into bite-sized pieces that are easier to tackle. Longer distances can be broken up mentally into quarters, and visual markers such as trees, lampposts or junctions can become short term targets or simply singing along to the song that you have pumping through your headphones can get you through the hard yards!
Use counting to block the pain
On your first sprint in a set of repeats, count the number of seconds it takes to complete it in your own head. Then on every other repeat, count backward from that number. It requires a level of concentration that can distract you from your pain and shortens the perceived duration of the sprint.
Apply positive self-talk – have a mantra!
When you are finding a run difficult, repeating a mantra in your head can really help you focus and maintain performance. Build a mental mantra ‘playlist’ that you can call upon when you most need them. This can even be written down on your forearm or hand as a visual reminder! Here’s a few examples, but of course it’s best to come up with your own:
I’m stronger than I think.
I own this race. I choose the outcome.
Breathe in strength. Breath out weakness.
Relax the shoulders, stride smoothly.
Let it flow, let yourself go,
Slow and low, that is the tempo.
(from Slow and Low by Beastie Boys)
Concentrate on good running form
When you get tired on a run, your form is more likely to be compromised. When you feel like this is happening, check your form starting from your feet up to your head. Concentrate on making one part of your body correct for 60 seconds before moving to the next. If you are unsure what to check for, read this previous article on running form
Beware of negative thoughts
When you’re starting to struggle during a hard session, put a big smile on your face! The mere act of smiling can have a profoundly positive impact on you mentally and physically, often helping to pull you out of your dark place and get you back on track to run more efficiently. If it works for the world’s fastest marathoner, Eluid Kipchoge, it might work for you too!