The Greatest Test of a Runner’s Mental Toughness is an Injury

For an injured runner, the HARDEST part of recovery is all mental. Okay, yes, there will be the cross-training, the physical therapy, any necessary strengthening exercises, stretches, icing, massage, etc…that stuff is never easy but the TORTURE is all mental.
injured runner
Strip the miles from a runner and they feel naked. Half of themselves. A shell. The mentality a runner takes and holds throughout their recovery will either make them stronger or cripple them.

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The Fascination of Mental Toughness: When we pass the point of running and into training it’s the mental aspect that really comes into play

Getting back into running after any kind of break is rough sailing. Be it out of injury, post-season recovery, yes, even some are afflicted by the lazy monster, can we get a collective, “Ouch” from the crowd? That said, battle through those first couple weeks and then soak in the awe of muscle memory.


Bent over and panting...have you seen this scene before?? 😉

Runners, once you’ve been at this long enough, have pretty much conditioned our legs to bend to our will. The quads, hamstrings, calf muscles, core, and even those biceps alike, know the motions thanks to the hours of repetition; they can to a degree function on auto-pilot. So we suck it up those first few awkward runs, try to not look at the pace and cringe too much, and eventually slip into a more reasonable state of shape.

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The Big Three: Talent vs. Work Ethic vs. Mental Toughness- Which matters the most?

What makes the most successful runners, is the talent, hard work ethic or mental toughness that matters the most? Sure, genetics come into play, one can’t overlook that as a factor, but running isn’t the kind of sport where you can make it to top off of pure talent alone. Eventually even the most talented ‘slackers’ hit their glass ceilings and get outpaced by the runners who refuse to let their genetic short-comings stand in their way and rely on dedication and perseverance.
kara goucher
Then there is grit. There are runners who make running look ugly, each step painful and torturous, mostly because it is, but they battle the pain, embrace it, run towards it even unlike their competitors can. There are also the types of runners who tend to rise to the occasion, when they toe the line they are able to step it up to a new level and perform even better than their workouts may have predicted. I like the term Shalane Flanagan has used, these are the ‘gamers.’

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Runner’s Strip Cartoon Movie Shorts: “A Runner’s Mid-Workout Mental Twitter”

Running a hard workout or race takes a LOT of lying to yourself.
“I SWEAR it’s the last repeat!”
“Just make it ONE more mile…”
“I promise it won’t hurt THAT much.”

Hey, if it takes a little self-deception to push through to the end, then so be it, right?!
My latest Runner’s Strip Movie Short: “A Runner’s Mid-Workout Mental Twitter”
[Here is the embedded version to give you a preview but it’s tough to read…click link BELOW to view larger.]

Twitter Movie
Here’s to all those lies that get us through the runs, workouts, and races!!
Posts on RACE TIPS
More Runner’s Strip!
1) Share a bit of mental Twitter Chatter you might have mid-workout.
2) Do you share about your running on social media sites? Which ones?
3) Best trick that you use to stay mentally tough?

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Combat Excuses and Run Mentally Tough Even When Things Suck

It’s ‘easy’ to run fast when everything is going right. Ideal conditions, you’re hitting perfect splits, the legs have POP. The thing is though, the real test of a runner and their mental toughness is how they respond to all the other days.

There will workouts in heat, wind, and rain. Runs where, for whatever reason your legs just don’t ‘show up’…they are flat. Other times you’ll be left gutting out a really tough workout but forced to run it solo. But you can’t take those things as EXCUSES. FACTORS, certainly, perhaps you’ll have to adjust the workout, but don’t start looking for a cop-out.
running shoes
See, your mind is an expert manipulator. It’s already looking for ANY kind of excuse, viable reason to tell you to stop this silly running, ease up, slow down, cut yourself some slack. A runner’s constantly working against that sort of ingrained human trait, to push past the limits the mind is imposing on the body.

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Running Mentally Engaged: Keeping your brain in check when the pain sets in

Running is tough. Racing is tougher…downright painful. The brain has a funny little way of dealing with that pain, it gets sneaky and tries to coax us into slowing down.

Runner Brain: “I want to run a PR, dang this hurts, but I’m going to put the work in and stick this out.”
Annoying Tired Brain: “Well, fine, if you’re not going to listen to my complaints and willingly slow down I’ll just find other ways to trick you into it!”
your brain on running
Oh the brain, you slippery little eel, you.

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Running Through to the End: The Mental Benefits of Getting Through a ‘Bad’ Workout

Run to your happy place. But honestly the route to that happy place may not always exactly FEEL like you’re running on clouds, does it? Pretty sure my answer to that question between intervals 3 and 9.99 would have been a resounding, “Heck no!” Though finish the cool-down, or the run, and I’m a firm believer that I’ve reached a happier place.
keep running
Workouts and runs are interesting because to a certain degree there’s always the ‘surprise’ variable; you can plan your hard and easy schedule but sometimes the legs have the final word in what kind of run it is. For hard workouts the goal is to push yourself, get better, see improvement, and you want to have some extra oomph in those legs.

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4 Steps to Getting Through the Grind

Long runs and long workouts tend to scare people. It can feel intimidating looking down the barrel of a double digit run or mulit-mile repeats. We’re distance runners, we love this stuff, but large quantities of miles (especially faster miles) still intimidate us.

Running and that mental component, can’t escape the mind games. Our bodies are apt to surprise us and prove our limit-setting minds wrong…BUT it’s a matter of pushing past the mind crap (doubts/fears/discomfort) before we can be ‘pleasantly’ surprised.
skulls on a track
The best thing about running into new territory, be it your longest run, the most number of long intervals, or the most volume of hard running, they’re all scariest before you do them. Once you’ve conquered the best you’ve proven you’re capable of it and you get a new frame of reference.

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Runners Breaking Fences: Accomplish more when you free yourself

Our minds are experts in construction. They will build up fences quicker than nobody’s business. It’s actually a survival method, the brain ‘thinks’ it’s looking after our best interest, keeping us safe by setting limits.

The problem is that this survival method is archaic and antiquated, most of the fence-building is stopping us from pushing ourselves in work or running rather than stopping us from trekking too far from our caves, getting lost, and gobbled up by a dinosaur. 😉
running mental fence
In breaking down your fences you are freeing yourself. Because on the other side, THAT is where you can push yourself to your best. The other problem with fences is that they stop you from even dreaming, or imaging that something epic is ‘out there’ that YOU could possible accomplish THAT! Fences keep you safe, in a comfort zone, they also suck because they rob you of really feeling and experiencing.

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A Gold Medal Mind: My interview with Dr. Jim Afremow

dr. jim afremowTo run and race your best it’s critical you’ve got the right mindset. Dr. Jim Afremow has made it his mission to help runners and athletes of all sports hone their mental training. Just as important and the physical workouts, an athlete’s mind can create a champion or turn into one’s own worst enemy. I wanted interview Dr. Afremow both because I respect his body of work and level of expertise and also because, let’s be honest, the psychology of our sport in straight-up fascinating! Often time elite athletes have trouble putting into words exactly how they get into gamer mode…so read on to hear a mental game’s coach put words to the ability:

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