Mental Training as a Runner

No matter how hard I physically train I have managed to mentally defeat myself at the worst times. Any runner knows that running is not all physical and the mental side of running is huge, for me at least 50% of a run is mental.
In the beginning running was only fun (okay not always fun). I had no real goals other than get out and run, finish a race, go a little further. In these days I'm sure I still had a mental side but it was easier to accept that it didn't go well and I could back off. Then I overtrained, ran daily, became injured and kept missing my goals, I focused soley on physical training and I kept falling short. Next phase I became a mom, running was again something I did. I enjoyed the time for me, getting out and training when others said I never would. I also benefited from the postpartum speed with a year and half of amazing running that came pretty easy, knocking of PRs at every distance. A hamstring injury, full time job, lack of good training and I was not where I wanted to be. Anyone who's followed me knows I have struggled the past few years, some out of my control but other things well within my control.

Last year I decided to focus on mental training and in all my free time read sports psychology books. My latest read is Mind Gym which has been a quick easy read thanks to short chapters and interesting stories of other athletes. It also provides short exercises during each chapter.

What have I learned...
  • Visualize the successful race, what makes it successful, how did I feel, Watch it happen. Feel the race.
  • Visualize things that can go wrong, focus on pushing through these blocks and seeing success
  • Visualize a poor race and push it away. What went wrong, why did it go wrong, Learn and move on.
  • Embrace the discomfort on tough runs and rely on this when a race gets tough.
  • Control the emotions and keep your composure both negative and positive, don't let these take over
  • Don't fear failure but focus on success
  • Focus on your goal, keep that in mind as the struggle begins
  • Work on the factors you can control and push out those out of your control like weather, illness, etc.
  • Remove doubt by focusing on the strengths and goals.
I have also read How Bad Do You Want It and Unbreakable Runner. What books have you found helpful? What are your mental strategies?

The last race has helped me put this to some use, I visualized myself running well, ahead of my goal and even winning the race. I am hoping that this can continue to help me as I train for tougher races.


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