Best Running Tips

Mental Strength in Running: Developing and Sustaining Resilience


Running and mental strength are related since running is a physical activity and a mental challenge. It can be demanding and sometimes discouraging. Therefore, running is a journey that needs significant mental fortitude. Developing and sustaining mental strength throughout the running journey is critical to athletic performance.


The Importance of Mental Strength in Running

Mental strength in running refers to the ability to push yourself through physical discomfort, overcome mental hurdles, and sustain focus and willpower during the run. Mental resilience is fundamental for several reasons, including:

a) Endurance

Long-distance running like 10ks or ultra-marathons demand unmeasurable endurance. Mental strength pushes a runner to run the extra mile even when tired.

According to Méndez-Alonso et al. (2021), psychological factors play a significant role in several cases of withdrawals in ultra-trail races.

b) Pain Management

Since running is physically grueling, resulting in pain and aches, mental strength can allow a runner to tolerate discomfort and continue the run, especially if it's competitive.

c) Overcoming Plateaus

There are times you hit a plateau during your daily runs. Progress appears impossible. However, mental strength can assist you in breaking these barriers. You can add more miles to your daily runs through positive motivation and attitude.


What Causes Lack of Mental Strength?

Several factors cause a lack of mental strength in running. They include:

a) Negative Self-talk 

You are inhibiting mental strength by having self-doubt and negative self-talk before and during the run. You are more likely to give up during challenging running moments like fatigue when you criticize yourself constantly.

b) Fear of Failure 

The fear of not meeting running goals or expectations creates anxiety and self-doubt, thus undermining your mental strength. It makes you second-guess your abilities and increases the chances of giving up during the trying running moments.

 c) Lack of Preparation

Inadequate mental preparation for the running session can leave you feeling unprepared, resulting in a lack of confidence.

d) Inconsistent Focus

Having destruction and wavering concentration saps away your mental strength. Hence, maintain focus when running.

e) Comparison with Others

We are not the same. Some runners run better and faster than others for various reasons. They are probably elite runners with significant experience, but you may be a beginner or intermediate runner. Comparing yourself to others can result in feeling inadequate, eroding mental resilience. Hence, maintain focus by thinking of yourself as competing against yourself and objectives to sustain resilience.


How a Runner Develops and Sustains Mental Strength in Running?

Developing mental strength during running is an ongoing process. It entails a combination of various mental strategies and regular training. Some of the evidence-based practices include:


  1. Goal setting

It is critical to set clear and achievable goals, including breaking them down into smaller and manageable milestones. Attaining the mini-gals keeps you motivated and focused.


  2. Positive Self-Talk, Visualization and Mindfulness

In his book Psychology of Winning, a performance consultant, Dr Denis Waitley, suggests mentally rehearsing successful runs and visualizing every detail from the start to the end. That is, create a mental image of what you want to happen and feel during the run. Furthermore, counter negative self-talk with a positive affirmation. Sport Psychologist and performance coach Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter, in her book "Sports Psychology Coaching for Your Performing Edge", stresses that cultivating constructive inner dialogue during races and training helps develop and sustain mental strength. Incorporate mindfulness into positive self-talk and visualization. Have short meditative moments in the running routine to build and enhance mental strength.


3. Seek Support and Feedback

Running is more exciting and rewarding when sharing the experience with others close to you. Consider joining a running group or club or find a running partner to run with. Also, seek feedback from an expert or experienced runner to help you improve your running techniques and performance. Consider avoiding comparing yourself with those with different abilities and backgrounds. Just focus on your improvements.


4. Enjoy The Running Process and Outcomes

Finally, running is fulfilling when you make it meaningful and exciting. Try varying your running routines, terrains, distances, or speeds to challenge and stimulate yourself. I slso suggest listening to music while running to entertain yourself while running. Finally, reward yourself with anything that makes you proud or happy after successfully completing a run or target.

Always remember that developing and sustaining mental strength in running is an ongoing process, so be consistent with these techniques.


                   rest refreshment 1



By Kyle Allen

Newsletter Subscriber

Please enable the javascript to submit this form