Mental Struggles While Running or Training?: three mental strategies that can help you push through

If you struggle mentally during a run, practice having a positive mindset, using mindfulness, and having fun. These three mental strategies can help you push through a negative mental rut during a run or workout session. They also benefit overall wellbeing and can be applied to day-to-day life.

I figured going into this 6 mile tempo run pushing the jogger could cause mental struggle. Pushing the jogger is usually tough, add tempo, and that will increase the workout difficulty.

Mental strategies to manage negativity

Negative thoughts may occur, and when they do, it is possible to continue to push through them when you apply mental strategies. My go-to’s are positive affirmations and telling myself that I’m doing fine at doing something hard. I tell myself that I can do it. I remind myself of the reasons why I am out there and the benefits of pushing through. Come racing, I can’t be soft, and pushing a jogger at a moderate to hard effort is challenging, but no where near racing.  No being a wimp.

Mindfulness

Having a mindfulness practice means that you’re focused on the present moment, immersing yourself in the experience, being non-judgmental, and not adding to or taking away from what something just IS. Learn more about mindfulness here.

Staying in the present is a large part of mindfulness. This mental strategy works while training or can be applied throughout your day. For example, I “take a mental break” when I wash my hands. I am mindful and present of washing my hands. I’m fully focused on washing my hands and what that’s like (which is pleasant) and nothing else. The water is warm, my soap smells really good, the sound of running water is calming, the sight and feel of the soap suds is pleasant. It’s a short mental vacation. Same thing with running. I’m in-tune with the flow of physically running. All of the parts of the body working together. My breathe, my heartbeat, feeling alive! Relaxing my body, knowing that it’s got this, I don’t need to worry that it can’t. It can handle it. The sound of my footsteps, crunching leaves, the wind blowing and how it feels on my skin. My daughter laughing and enjoying the ride. We’re creating an adventure! Mindfulness and running is like peanut butter and jelly.

Cultivate gratitude

Increasing mindfulness awareness may also bring about feelings of gratitude. Feeling grateful for all of the little pieces that come together allowing for that moment in time. For me, it’s being grateful that I’m able to run and push hard. Being grateful that I can create memories with and for my daughter. Grateful for the health benefits of running. Grateful to be able to run somewhere safe (even though traffic isn’t always safe). Grateful for the beauty of nature. The list goes on. My mind sometime switches to feelings of awe reflecting on these things.

Overall, cultivating gratitude is so powerful. It improves our health and wellbeing, our relationships, and increases happiness. Life is a gift.

Have fun!

Soak it up and have fun. Crunch leaves, cheer for yourself, say “hi” to others, and smile. Listen to something that pumps you up or listen to your surroundings. Think about life or let your mind be quiet. By the way, having fun doesn’t equate to being “soft”. Do whatever is fun, allow yourself to have fun. The process should be fun.

Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well.

Happy running!


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