Mental Tricks To Keep You Running Strong


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With our own experience gained over the last 5 years, we have learned that half the battle of finishing any race is the mental challenge. This made us curious about how one can be improving their race performances using mental tricks to keep you running strong.

So… recently, we asked the Trail & Kale Instagram community this very important question:

“WHAT do you do to keep yourself going (mentally or physically) during the lowest point of a tough run or race?”

We have chosen some of our favourite tips from your suggestions and curated a list below. Thank you to everyone who answered our question, you’re advice will undoubtedly help other runners tune up their mental game ready for their next big race, whether its a 5k or a 100 miler!

Mental Tricks To Keep You Running Strong When You Feel Like You Can’t Go Any Further

@jenny_sampica – “I was taught to focus on parts of my body not affected by the run… For example, my legs feel like rubber but by god, the tip of my nose has never felt better! ? Or I imagine myself explaining the taste of bubble gum to someone who has never had it. Silly mind games, but it makes the miles fly by!”

broken arrow skyrace

@alidixoninstagram “At varying stages throughout a race, I break completed distances down into smaller chunks or percentages remaining of the total distance of a race. Yes, a bit nerdy but I find it helps me realise that there’s not all that much left to do if I’ve already done 20% for example ??”

@identityk – “Personally, I try and look straight ahead – focus on the horizon and then everything in the foreground (I.e. where you’re gonna run) isn’t so far away!! ? also, it’s always helpful to choose a pumping tune during a low point to really get the energy going- maybe the first one that I listened to on that run to try and jog some muscle memory of a faster pace ?”

RELATED: 5 Best Survival Books to  Improve Your Ultrarunning Mental Strength For 2019

@ajyogi13 – “I rely heavily on my running mates. That tribe of girls is what keeps me going. On days I have to run alone, I often find myself trying to figure out maths problems in my mind. Or I become hyper-aware of all my surroundings, noticing and identifying birds, trees, and critters.”

@pixietrails “Break down long distances into smaller, more management chunks. That way you can have the sense of achievement and satisfaction of ticking them off as you work towards your bigger goal?”

Follow these strategies to be able to run longer without getting tired.

Did you know we have a Strava running club?

It’s another great way to motivate each other to train harder and have even more fun running!

Click Here to Join Now

@mais_runs_trails“For me to get through the dark, tough patches of a race I just think about all the wisdom that’s been shared with me from other runners over the years and it becomes mantras… “Stay in the mile” “Move through the pain“You GET to do this” “Be the example you want your children to see and emulate” ? And, of course, “You paid to do this so go get the damn medal!” ?”

@rustyj.bones “I focus on the moment between inhaling and exhaling when I don’t know if I’m in the air or ground. It’s a weightless moment that you can’t feel pain as if your watching yourself moving through time and space. Once you realise it, it’s gone. I also play drum rhythms in my head while together my feet and breath tap out the tempo on the ground. Some call this rhythmic running.”

RELATED: Trail Running With Poles: Benefits, Disadvantages And Advice

@n8therunner “I think of those who can’t walk for whatever reason and be grateful I can choose to walk and run when I want to.”

Lavaredo Ultra Trail: Cortina and the Dolomites, Italy - Trail & Kale

@deannalee_donovan – “My mental game begins as soon as my physical one becomes too consuming. I choose a spot in the distance such as a particular landmark, tree or corner, or alternatively a time period/distance in which to run to before allowing myself to slow to a walk. By the time I get there, I’m over my pity party and able to set a new goal. Most of the time I can do this for an entire race and still cross the finish line.

My last hurdle was a mountain 60k and being greeted at the finish line by my faster running buddies was the best reward for all my little target points!”

RELATED: Trail Running and Mindfulness

Know any more tricks?

We would love to hear about your mental tricks to keep you running strong. If you have one that we didn’t mention, please leave it in the comments below 🙂

As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


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