Mental Toughness for Running
Running seems to be a polarizing exercise modality. The suggestion to go for a run can elicit moans of despair from some athletes who would prefer just about any other form of exercise. On the other hand, there are so many people who love to run and can hardly go a day without it.
I can tolerate running, but I’d prefer to weight train or do high intensity intervals, as I find running to be a bit boring. I have trouble finding that “zen” place that runners reference. So, how do people fall in love with running?
I asked ultra-marathoner Nicole Ponte how to mentally steel yourself for running. Nicole has been running since 2014 and has completed 2 marathons, six 50ks, two 50 miles, and one 100 mile (Cascade Crest). She also runs with the “Junk Milers Trail Club”- a group of local friends who all love to run trails.
Here are her tips:
1). Pick a destination: Running aimlessly can sometimes seem pointless. Choosing a cool landmark or beautiful scenery to see along your run can turn a typical jaunt into an adventurous expedition- leaving you wanting to run further to see more.
2). Disconnect yourself: Try not to dwell on your day to day problems and use your run as a time to forget about it all. Of course, you will still have to deal with any conflicts afterwards, but during your run, let yourself have a breath of fresh air and relax.
3). Choose a Goal: While running aimlessly is often a breath of fresh air, setting a goal will help motivate you to keep running. Whether it be a race or running a certain time or distance, having a goal in the back of your mind while running will make the miles fly by.
4). Don’t be tense: Be sure to run where you feel most safe – if you are tense and worried, it will make the run nerve wracking and hard to enjoy. I personally go for trails because traffic makes me nervous, but many prefer roads because getting lost is a concern- it’s all up to personal preference.
5). Wear the Right Gear: If you are wearing gear that fits you incorrectly and bothers you, the majority of your run will be spent dwelling on how uncomfortable you are. Be sure to wear gear that is properly fitted and comfortable so that you can enjoy your run.