Sunday, August 3, 2014

5 Approaches to Help You Push Through a Tough Workout or Race

"Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself." John Bingham

As I go into week 7 of my half marathon training, I am starting to focus more on my mental training. The long runs are getting longer and the race is getting closer. Every race I seem to hit the wall at mile 12 both mentally and physically. I aim to change that.

This time around I am following the training plan outlined in the book "Run Less, Run Faster" more closely. I dislike track workouts with a passion but I know that they will help make me faster. They also play a big part in getting mentally tougher. I am incorporating more tempo runs and strength training. I am also building up my endurance a little more this time around. I don't just want to be able to just finish. I want to finish strong. My longest run before the race will be 15 miles.

Our minds are very powerful tools. We can build ourselves up or tear our selves down within minutes. When we run, our mind starts to wonder. Self doubts start to creep in. Studies show that the self doubt or wondering mind can start to show in your form—shoulders up to your ears or shallow breathing almost right away. Here are 5 approaches you can incorporate to help push through tough workouts or races.

1. When your mind starts to wander, remind yourself of why you run. It is my stress relief. I run to fight depression, anxiety, and to let go of stress. I run for my family and for my health. I run to feel strong.
2. Be your own cheerleader. Remind yourself that you are strong, you are a fighter. You are stronger than the run.
3. Remind yourself of all your accomplishments, how you have overcome when you thought you could not. Remind yourself of things that make you feel strong and powerful even if it seems silly. I remind myself that I have given birth three times without pain medication, that I was stationed at my first duty station 7,000 miles away from family and friends (Europe). I tell my self that this is not my first half marathon. I also praise myself for everything I have been through and survived, how when times where tough I got back up. Learn to praise your self. Focus on your strengths and not weaknesses.
4. It can be tough, but focus on the mile you are in at the moment. Try to loosen up your arms. Focus on how strong your arms and legs are. Try to zone out. When you feel like quitting, focus on a object 100 yards away. Once you pass that object, focus on another one.

5. Don't dwell on the days when running is tough. Be proud of yourself. Remind your self about how far you have come. Think about all your running accomplishments and about how sweet that moment will be when you finish.

Do you have any special mantras you tell yourself when you hit a mental wall?


  1. My mantra is "breathe, focus, and just keep going." Focusing on my breath always resets me, then I think about some part of my form. The swing of my arms. The landing of my feet. Holding my core. And remembering how I will feel when it's all done helps too :)

  2. LOVE this! SInce I am in the midst of half marathon training too I can relate and my personal motto is mind over matter too. I think reminding ourselves how far we have come is most important especially on the days when runs seem tough or impossible.

    1. Yes it is! When is your race, I probably read it on your blog, but I am very forgetful :( ?