Today, I did my long run, doing about 9 miles. The last…hmm…5+ miles were quite painful…mentally. I woke up at 5:30 so I could get in the run before the sun and heat could slow me down. Anger and excuses tend to fill my mind when I’m uncomfortable, such as on long runs. So, I didn’t want the sun to be a contributing factor towards any mental struggles. It always amazes me how much running is a mental sport. Most of us don’t even know how far we can go because we have the mindset that we can’t.
Well, I know I can now, and it’s because once upon a time I ran a very difficult, somewhat angry, and very satisfying half marathon. A little over a year ago I ran it—my first and only half marathon as of yet. Ever since, I’ve been able to run a lot further than I could have imagined before I ran that physically- and mentally-testing race. Through training with a friend, I discovered I could actually run much further than I ever had before. First, I reached the 5-mile mark, and I felt on top of the world. Soon after, I was able to run 7 miles…a few times a week. It’s amazing what the body can do when you simply test it and cope with the mental struggles. Here are some inspirational quotes and some sayings that I thought were relevant to the mental aspect of running.
The feeling of achievement after finishing a long run is pretty great. That plus a runner’s high and experiencing improvement makes pushing yourself worth it. Sometimes you just might not realize it’s worth it until you finish the run. When I get the intense temptation to quit, I try a few methods that seem to really help me stick with it. The next time you are having difficulty staying with a run, try a few of these ideas and see if it helps at all!
Focus on small goals:
Run to the next stoplight; run one more mile; run to the upcoming crack in the road. Just pick a spot. It helps when you turn your run into separate steps. Dreaming big is awesome, but sometimes you just need small goals to get there. It’s less intimidating. I find that when I tell myself to run one more mile, I finish that mile and realize I can do another one…and another one. By focusing on one mile at a time, I remain more positive and feel less pressure on myself.
Drown out your negative thoughts with music:
I never used to run with music, and I don’t know how. Once I got the right headphones and started making upbeat playlists, it really helps drown out how tired I am and keeps me somewhat entertained. It’s especially beneficial in longer runs because the upbeat music can help rev you back up!
Get lost in your other thoughts:
When I run on the treadmill, I try to focus on what I’m going to do the rest of the day or perhaps a project I want to work on. Staring at the wall isn’t my thing. I do this on long runs too, but I get bored way faster when I’m on the treadmill. Get really into your thoughts because it will help you stop dwelling on how many seconds or minutes have passed since you last checked.
Keep in mind why you’re pushing yourself:
This is especially helpful when I’m at the end of my runs. I think how much I’ve already ran and how a few more miles won’t be the death of me. My runs usually start with a number of miles as a goal. I think to myself how I set that goal to keep improving and to get that feeling of achievement afterwards.
Remember how good you’ll feel once you’re done:
A hard run always feels worth it once you’re done. You’re covered in sweat, have pushed yourself, and know it has helped you become a better runner. When you’re feeling tired and the pain of testing yourself both mentally and physically, remember the run can’t last forever, and once it’s done, you’ll feel amazing and proud.
My desire to quit comes and goes during my runs. So, when it overwhelms me, I rotate through all of these. Sometimes I’m really into a run; sometimes anything sounds better. “Fake it until you make it,” they say. When you test yourself, you WILL get better. To keep getting better, you always have to be pushing yourself. However, learning how to cope with the mental struggles of a difficult task, be it running or another area in life, will surely make you proud and may surprise you of what you can achieve.
Hope these tips help you in your next run! Now you must tell me…
How do you get through a run when all you can think about is quitting?