The Mental Game of Running

April 23, 2023

Nick Hancock

Firstly... yep, thats me in the first picture! End of the Brighton marathon (my first marathon) and I was broken! The mental game of running was not in me then, thats for sure! Fast forward to the picture on the right and I ran a marathon PB in 2:54 and was strong, both physically and mentally, to the end! Here in this post I go into some of the things that have worked for me and for the people that I coach. The mental side is something where needed!
Running is often considered a physical activity and I am often talking about physical strength and including a strength training plan for runners into ones regime, but it's crucial to note that it involves a mental game as well. The ability to push oneself to the limits and persevere when the body is giving up requires a particular type of strength. In this blog post, the mental game of running will be explored. Mental strength will be defined and discussed, and strategies for harnessing the power of determination and cycling through motivational techniques will be analysed. Furthermore, the benefits of endurance running and how they aid in staying in the race will be examined.

For those interested in elevating their running abilities, this post is a must-read.

the mental game of running
Coach Nick on mile 22 of a 40 mile ultramarathon in Brecon! Mental game of running is strong in this one!!

Defining Mental Strength

Running is both a physical activity and a mental game. Mental strength and resilience are crucial for success on the track, whether you're a beginner preparing for your first 5K or an experienced runner training for a marathon. To define your mental strength and become an elite runner, start by identifying your personal strengths as a runner and using them to your advantage.

Visualisation techniques can enhance performance by mentally practicing success, while supportive relationships provide encouragement and build strong bonds. Responding effectively to setbacks is essential for progress, with anxiety management techniques like positive self-talk and meditation helpful for staying focused during the race. Finally, it’s all about mindset- embracing challenges, staying present in the moment and developing a "runner’s mindset" focused on perseverance. By implementing these strategies, you can become an elite runner.

Strategies for Building Mental Resilience During Running

Running offers several benefits, such as getting in shape, staying healthy and developing mental resilience. However, it can also be a mental challenge besides the physical one.

To maximise your running experience, understanding the mental game of running and building strategies to maintain focus and motivation throughout your journey is crucial.

Here are some tips to develop mental resilience while running:

1. Create a pre-run routine that includes dynamic (NOT static) stretching, listening to music or podcasts, visualising success, reciting mantras or phrases that will encourage you during the run.

2. Accepting and acknowledging negative thoughts while running is crucial. However, it would help reframe these thoughts into positive ones to motivate yourself throughout the session. Find positive self-talk by reminding yourself why you started running, such as to meet your weight loss goals or to have fun. Visualising and rehearsing in your mind can improve motivation levels that can help you cross the finish line in a better position.

3. To stay focused and achieve your goals during runs, it is critical to connect with your body. Pay attention to how fast or slow it wants you to go and listen to it when it tells you to take rest periods between workouts. Regardless of good or bad runs, do not give up after one lousy running session. Use setbacks as an opportunity to grow, set realistic achievable goals, and celebrate all achievements, not matter how big or small they may be. Also, reward yourself with something special after each successful workout session!

Harnessing the Power of Determination

Running can be a great way to stay fit, clear your mind, and boost your mental strength. However, becoming a successful runner requires more than physical endurance; you also need to master the mental game of running. The strategies below will help you stay motivated and maintain focus during your runs, enabling you to reach your goals faster and with less effort.

First, establish a success-oriented support system by setting daily or weekly goals that are achievable yet challenging. If you're training for a longer race, create mini goals for each mile or stretch of the run that will help keep you on track towards the end goal. Visualize how you'll feel after completing the run; picturing yourself crossing the finish line can provide an extra boost of motivation.

It's also important to understand how to push past mental obstacles when they arise. You should learn techniques to avoid cumulative exhaustion, which comes from both physical and psychological exertion, as well as tactics to build psychological resilience so you can remain focused during longer races. Listening to music that pumps you up and motivates you is one way of doing this, as is using positive mantras such as "I am strong" or "I can do this" (or my personal favourite "move your fucking arse, Nick") while running.

Additionally, focus on certain body parts, such as your arms or breathing, while concentrating on making them move correctly. This helps shift attention away from any pain felt while running so that it doesn't negatively affect performance. Finally, try staying present in the moment instead of thinking about reaching a distant end goal. If possible, focus on enjoying each step instead.

By harnessing determination through these tips and tricks, runners everywhere can make immense progress towards their fitness goals while building mental strength along the way. Remember: think of all the benefits of running, including improved endurance, better overall health, and more energy, then use these strategies whenever needed to maximise performance during every run.

How Positive Thinking Keeps You in the Race

Running is not only a physical challenge, but it is also a mental one. Keeping a positive outlook while training and running can make the difference between success and failure in this sport. It is important to stay focused on the task at hand and adjust your attitude accordingly. Here are some strategies to help you stay in the race with a positive mindset:

First, build resilience by overcoming any mental blocks that may arise as you approach your goals. Create mental rituals to help keep yourself confident and energised throughout your run. Guided meditation can be beneficial for reducing anxiety and stress before or during your run. Visualisation techniques are also useful for reaching peak performance when running; visualise yourself achieving your goals, envisioning the finish line, or using positive mantras to keep you focused on what lies ahead.

When actually running, break up your runs into manageable chunks; create mini goals for each mile or kilometre that will help break up the monotony of long distances and give you something tangible to focus on rather than thinking about how far still remains ahead! Focus on form technique as well as positive self-talk: use phrases like “I can do this” or “I am strong enough” to build motivation and confidence along the way. Listening to upbeat music while running can also give an extra boost of energy when needed! Finally, take a moment here or there during your run to appreciate where you are – absorb the nature around you so that every step feels like progress towards something bigger than yourself!

Rotating Through Motivation Strategies

Running is an incredible way of staying healthy and in shape. However, success in running requires not just physicality but also mental strategies like focus, resilience, and confidence. Thus, the mental game of running plays an essential role in achieving success. To help with this mental game, rotating through different motivational strategies can be beneficial.

Firstly, setting small goals and celebrating successes can help maintain momentum when running long distances. This entails setting weekly or monthly goals and rewarding yourself upon achieving them. Additionally, training your mind by being intentional with how you talk yourself up or down in each moment can help build resilience when pushing beyond perceived barriers.

Secondly, incorporating mindfulness into your daily life routines is key to succeeding in the mental game of running. Try taking five minutes to practice deep breathing techniques that will help you manage pain and discomfort while running longer distances. Furthermore, staying motivated during runs by using positive messaging can also be helpful. Remember why you started running in the first place. Lastly, being mindful of pace and distance as well as environment are critical factors when trying to succeed in long-distance runs - regardless of whether they are 5km or 50km!

Cross country coaches often say that long-distance running is 90% mental, which underscores the importance of maintaining a relaxed mindset from start until the finish line. Thus, understanding the significance of maintaining a smooth state, both mentally and physically, will not only make those runs much easier but will also make them much more enjoyable too.

Training Your Mind for Maximum Performance

Running is more than just a physical activity; it's also a mental game. To reach peak performance, train your mind for maximum potential. We'll discuss the power of positive thinking and goal setting, as well as practical strategies for accumulating and utilising mental energy.

Increase self-confidence and resilience by taking control of your inner dialog. Formulate coping skills to deal with fear of failure. Strengthen motivation by breaking down complex goals into achievable steps. Stay focused in the present moment and keep a positive mindset. Practice mindfulness techniques such as visualising success and trusting your training process. Remember, running is both physical and mental - put these strategies into practice for maximum performance!

The Rewards of Endurance Running

Running long distances can feel overwhelming. However, with proper mental preparation, it can also become a rewarding experience. Running is not just a great physical workout, but it can also improve focus, mental clarity, and discipline. This makes it ideal for anyone looking to enhance their overall wellbeing. Below are some tips to help you develop your “mental game” while running long distances.

The first step is to identify your strengths and weaknesses, which will enable you to choose the best strategies to overcome common running challenges, such as lack of motivation or fatigue. While some people may find positive mantras helpful, others may prefer creative techniques like listening to music or setting achievable goals at different mile markers. Regardless of which techniques work best for you, remember to be consistent.

Interval training for runners is also an effective way to keep your mind engaged during long runs. It allows you to break down the run into smaller sections, making it feel more achievable. Visualising yourself succeeding during races before they even start can increase confidence and motivation throughout the race. For instance, picturing yourself crossing the finish line or achieving personal records during specific parts of the run can push you harder when physical fatigue sets in.

Ultimately, running requires consistent practice and dedication to master both the physical and mental aspects. By using these strategies, along with regular physical training, runners can develop a strong foundation that increases their chances of success, not just physically but mentally as well!

How to Stay Motivated in Long-Distance Running

Running is a great way to stay healthy and fit, but it can be hard to stay motivated when training for a long-distance race. The mental game of running is just as important as the physical aspect, so it’s essential to develop techniques that will help you stay focused and motivated. Here are some tips on how to stay in the right frame of mind during your long-distance running journey.

First, learn how to talk positively to yourself. Developing a strong inner dialogue can help boost your motivation levels and keep you on track towards achieving your goals. Additionally, set clear goals and identify what’s important for you. Set short term goals as well as long term objectives to break down the process into manageable chunks, celebrate successes along the way, and avoid burnout or injury by understanding the importance of rest and recovery.

Adapting positive techniques like visualisation or mantras can also be helpful when facing challenging obstacles. Visualising success ahead of time helps energise your body while mantras provide an extra boost of confidence during tough moments.

Lastly, remember why you began running in the first place and celebrate all of your achievements along the way, no matter how small they may seem at first.

To Conclude

At the end of the day, running is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. To maximise your running experience and reach success, implementing mental resilience strategies and harnessing determination are key elements. Understanding how to push past mental obstacles, build positive thinking habits, and rotate through motivation strategies will help you stay in the race longer to achieve your goals. So why not take this knowledge with you on your next run and see what amazing things you can accomplish?

Author: Nick Hancock is a UESCA Certified Ultrarunning coach and UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) and has coached many busy professionals and parents to achieve finishes, top-10s and podiums in events such as London Marathon, Manchester Marathon, Amsterdam Marathon, UTMB, UTS, Centurion events, Endure24, Backyards and many more. Host of the Maximum Mileage Running Podcast and author of the Ultimate Cookbook for Runners

He can be found on Instagram @runwithnick

Now go run hard! And remember, if you ever want to talk about the potential you can reach by taking on the services of a online running coach in the UK then do get in touch by hitting that enquiry button

Enquire now
Thank you! You are now subscribed to our newsletter
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please try again

Transform your running with a coach who knows your goals

Get the results you want with Nick Hancock as your online running coach

Button Text