How to Build Mental Toughness for Running

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how to build mental toughness for running

These mental toughness strategies will help you to continually run your best.

Runners are always looking for an edge. And when it comes to running, there is one thing you can do that will give you a massive advantage over everyone else out there: build mental toughness.

And the good news is, this is not something you have to be born with or spend years practicing to achieve. Mental toughness is simply the ability to push through tough times and keep going despite what your mind tells you.

Mental toughness manifests itself in many different ways. Still, it all boils down to six traits that every runner needs to succeed at their goal of completing a race without giving up on themselves: visualization, dealing with negative thoughts, not hitting the panic button, pushing through adversity, staying positive, and staying focused.

It all starts in your mind. The key to building mental toughness is to understand what you are dealing with to make it better. The idea behind building mental toughness is simple, but the execution is much more complex than most people realize.

Let’s discuss the steps to take on your journey of building mental toughness.

Identify Your Running Defeats

1. The Quitter

Quitters run away from everything. They avoid training runs, races, challenging workouts, and even difficult conversations with their significant other. This runner does not just avoid these things; they run away from them as quickly as they can!

Quitters are more likely to forsake their aims as a result of this avoidance. These people stop in the middle of training for a marathon or fail to spend quality time with their children regularly.

2. The Pusher

Do you ever feel as if you can not let go of the accelerator? This athlete runs practically every day, pushing themselves to their limitations to improve as a runner. As a result, they perform well in most races but rapidly tire out when presented with a more difficult race or challenge.

3. The Unenjoyer

This runner does not understand why people run. They do not enjoy running and have a hard time understanding why others do either. You can often find this runner walking or jogging because they think it is a waste of their time running the entire distance.

4. The Worrier

Plagued by negative thoughts, worriers are concerned about things that have not happened yet or may never happen at all. And these thoughts often keep this runner from being successful in whatever they are trying to accomplish.

5. The Miserable Runner

These runners have only one goal: for the run to end. Miserable runners run because they feel like they have to, never because they want to. And this mindset makes it very difficult for these runners to continue running.

Which One Are You?

Knowing how you respond to adversity is the first step towards building mental toughness. Do not worry if you identify with more than one of these runners. We all have some elements of each at different times in our lives.

How Do You Get Mental Toughness?

Now that you know which type of runner you are, it is time to figure out how to build mental toughness for running.

1. Visualize Your End Goal

The first step to building mental toughness for your running is to visualize what it will be like when you accomplish what you are trying to do. And this visualization does not have to happen before the run, during, or after the run. It can happen at any time, as long as it happens every day until your race happens.

Every night before you go to bed, close your eyes and imagine yourself crossing the finish line. Visualize all of the triumph and joy you will feel when you accomplish your goal while also envisioning what it will take for you to get there every day until race day.

2. Deal with Negative Thoughts

Every runner has negative thoughts, whether they are telling you that you suck at running or that it is too hot for another mile. But these thoughts are only harmful if you let them get the best of you.

The next time one of these thoughts pops into your head, say, “That is a thought. I have to deal with it later.” After that, put that thought in a mental box where you can return to it once your run is over.

3. Do Not Panic

Panicking will get you nowhere. And it will get you there faster if you let yourself panic during a race. When you feel the panic set in, take a deep breath and say to yourself, “I can do this because I know what to do.” This simple sentence should help you relax and focus on what you need to do to keep running.

Panic is one of your biggest enemies when you are running. And staying calm will keep it at bay until the end of your race.

4. Push Through the Pain

It takes mental toughness to run when you are in pain or going through a tough time physically. And training yourself to push through the pain will help you accomplish your goals.

Start small by running during days when you are not experiencing any pain. Commit to running hard for five minutes, even if you are not in pain. After doing this, take a break and try it again on your next run.

Stick with this method until you work up to running for twenty minutes when you are not feeling any pain at all. And then your body will be able to handle the tough times because it knows you can push through them.

5. Stay Positive

No matter what happens, no matter how bad it is, always look on the bright side of things. Even if you have an injury that forces you to stop running for several months, staying positive will keep you from being miserable and eventually lead your body to heal faster so you can get back to running.

Having a positive mindset will create a cycle in which you constantly look on the bright side of things and become happier and healthier with each passing day. You should never break this cycle if you want to keep your body and mind in good shape for running.

6. Stay Focused

Whether you are running to train for a race or just for fun, always stay focused on the goal you are trying to accomplish. This means not looking away from what you are doing and working hard until it happens.

Do not give up in the middle of your run – if you do not feel like running anymore, push yourself until you get to the end.

If you want to be successful at any task, maintaining focus is crucial because it keeps your mind on what you need to accomplish and how far along in that process you are. And when you are focused, you will never feel like quitting.

Build Mental Toughness That Lasts

So, every morning when you wake up and every night before you sleep, close your eyes and imagine yourself running. And think about what you need to do to get where you are going.

When negative thoughts come into your head, do not let them hold any space because they can hinder your progress if you allow them to. Put them in a mental box until after your run so you can handle them later.

When you go through tough times, look on the bright side of things because there is always something good to focus on if you try hard enough. And when you are in pain, it means that you need more work for what you want to accomplish. So push through it, and do not give up until you get there.

Following these principles every day will help you build mental toughness that lasts. This is a great thing to have as a runner because it enables you to push through pain, stay focused, and remain calm even when the going gets tough.

A running coach can also help you build mental toughness that lasts. So if you are struggling with these things, looking for a coach may be worth your while.

So remember to train your mind as much as you do your body. In time, your mind will become just as strong, focused, and capable of reaching your goals in the face of adversity.

So push yourself to your limits every day, whether going the extra mile or running that last lap. Anything is possible if you believe in yourself and use the tools you have to accomplish your goals.

A Training Plan that Works for You.

Our collection of running plans will help you train year-round. From 5k to a 100-mile ultramarathon, we have a training plan built for your experience level and goals. Every plan is delivered via Final Surge, allowing you to sync workouts across devices, receive daily reminders of workouts and activities, and analyze workout and target zone details. Get started today with a training plan built for you, view our running plans here.

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