Mental Workouts for Runners

Mental Workouts for Runners

Welcome to another month of Run It!

In case you missed it, here’s what we covered so far this year:

Winter Running Tips and Essentials

How to Stay Sane on the Treadmill

The Best and Worst Racing Advice for Runners

Essential Exercises for Common Running Injuries

Hydration Tips and Tricks for Runners

Summer Running Tips

Rave Runs

This month we are talking about Mental Workouts for Runners.

The mental side of running has always been the hardest thing for me.

I’ve learned over the years that running is at least 90% mental. My mind needs to be trained just as much as my muscles and cardiorespiratory system. When negative thoughts creep in, things can quickly take a nose dive.

I can’t becomes my mantra. Which usually follows with a slowing pace.

Over the years, two things have been the key for flipping the negative switch to off.

1 ) Be your own biggest fan. I can get out and run anywhere, anytime.  But when the going gets tough, my brain switches to Negative Nancy mode. Negative Nancy likes to tell me to slow down because I’ll feel so much better at an easy pace rather than goal pace. Switching my self talk to positive reinforcement rather than OH MY GOD I’M DYING type thinking really helped.  Who knew? As cheesy as it sounds, Positive Polly became my BFF.  When I got tired, rather than saying, “I’m tired”, I break out proven mantras like – I can do hard things.  You have done harder things than this before. This too shall pass.  Believe. Endure. Achieve. I can.  I will.

I swear flipping to positive self talk is one of the biggest things that can help your mental game.  Be your biggest cheerleader!

2 ) Focus on your breathing.  Yoga is great for runners.  It helps loosen up all your tight muscles and works on your flexibility.  However, I think the biggest take away that I get from yoga in my running is my breathing.  With yoga, we use diaphragmatic breathing which calms the nervous system, relaxes the mind and fills our blood with oxygen to energize the brain and body. When the going gets tough in a workout or race, by focusing on my breathing, it forces me to slow down my racing thoughts and to deliver oxygen to my hard working muscles. Rather than focusing on my desire to slow down or quit, I’m focused on taking deep meaningful breaths in and breathing out in a controlled manner. It also helps to take a deep breath and then forcefully exhale with a sigh.  It’s kind of a way of shaking it off and moving on.  Try it anytime even when not running.

Mental Workouts for Runners. Run It - tips and tricks for runners by runners. |

Here are even more tips on how to strengthen your mental game from a few of my running friends. Click on the picture to take you to their post. And don’t forget to Pin away so you have a stash of valuable running info to reference whenever you need it.


9 Powerful Mantras For Runners


Mental Workouts for Runners - visualization tricks and key mental workouts to get you ready for an event. Part of the Run It series of tips and tricks for runners.


3 Tips for Mental Training from RunFarGirl


Mental Workouts for Runners


VITA Mental Toughness GRAPHIC

Linking up with Coaches Cornerand Wild Workout Wednesday.

How’s your mental game?

Any good tips to share?




18 comments on “Mental Workouts for Runners

  1. I definitely need to get back to being my biggest fan! I’m SO glad you mentioned that because I can be brutal to myself…and I know you don’t know anything about that, right? :-)))
    Love this link up!

  2. I definitely need to work on not letting negative thoughts in my head and also focusing on my breathing. Thanks for the tips!

  3. I need to figure out how to channel Positive Polly right now because I am definitely being a Negative Nancy at the moment. I’m focusing on the negative with my aches and pains and really worried about making it to the start line. I wore ALL of the Momentum mantras on my wrist yesterday which helped, but I’m struggling big time!!

  4. I have to say that yesterday’s run was a mental struggle for me. I have all sorts of mantras, but sometimes they just don’t work and you just have to finish (didn’t help that I ran a mile longer than I was supposed to).

    Being your own fan is a good one!

  5. LOVE this post! I think so many runners focus on physical workouts to make them stronger and race-ready…speed work, long runs, and so on. But really that mental preparation is just as important. Thanks for this great roundup!

  6. Great tips! Focusing on my breathing made a huge difference for me in races and workouts. A hard pace does feel just a bit more manageable when I keep my breathing under control. I do need to work on being my biggest fan…I tend to be way too hard on myself!

  7. The mind is a powerful thing… This is such a good reminder of how we can use it to keep moving and progressing!


  8. I love this- small tweaks in thinking can be so simple but really powerful! I’m always working to combat that little voice that says stop, or you can’t, and replace it with you can and you are!

  9. Thanks for sharing great tips this blog contains lot of information which is very helpful for us this blog is very interesting and informative i really enjoyed this blog thanks for sharing.

  10. Running is totally mental. I’m usually good if I have plans to run with pals or if it’s sunny out. If it’s overcast and I’m running solo, I’ll sit inside and debate with myself if I’m running or not. I always do, of course. 😉

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