7 Ways to Dig Deeper During Runs

How to Keep Going When Running Gets Tough

We've all had those times when we're running or racing and felt like throwing in the towel. So how do you prevent giving into those feelings of doubt and despair?  Here are some tips for digging deeper when the going gets tough:


Keep it in perspective.

Jordan Siemens/Getty

Try to remind yourself of things in your life that you’ve been through that were way harder than getting through a run. I think about how I delivered two babies and was definitely in a lot more pain than I’ve ever been during any run or race. I got through that, so I can handle a little discomfort during a race.


Find a running buddy.

Philip and Karen Smith

If you find that the voice in your head isn’t enough to push you through a tough workout, consider getting a buddy or two to do it with you so you can push each other to run longer or harder. 


Remember your pride.

Race spectators cheering
Dream Pictures/Ostrow

Sometimes the fear of embarrassing ourselves is enough to keep us moving. If people you know are watching, the desire to look good in front of them may be good motivation. Even if they’re not right in front of you at that moment, try to form a mental picture of them and run as if they were there. By the same token, race photographers can also keep you motivated and looking (or at least trying to) strong for your race photos.


Focus on your form.

Runner outside in fall weather
Photo by Chase Jarvis/Getty Images

Sometimes it helps to get out of your head and think about your body. Do a total body check, starting with your head. Make sure you’re looking up, not down at your feet. Relax your shoulders, keep your back straight, and don’t hold any tension in your arms, wrists, and hands. Make sure that your footfalls are straight and that you’re breathing deep.


Think about your reward.

Drinking tea
Jerome Tisne

“I keep thinking of other things that I can enjoy when my run is over!” Mario Tribuzio writes on the Running & Jogging Facebook page.   Think about that post-run treat -- whether it be a cup of coffee, a massage, or a nap – and how much you’ll enjoy it.


Count your blessings.

NYC marathon runner
Getty Images

You might start thinking, “This hurts, I wish I could stop.” But try to think back to times that you couldn’t run and how frustrating it was. Mandie Elson writes on the Running & Jogging Facebook page that, when she hits a tough spot during a run, she “appreciates the fact that I can still run, when friends I've lost I know wished they still could too."


See other competitors as your friends.

Peter Larsen/Getty

 If you’re racing, it can be discouraging if someone passes you or if you see a lot of runners ahead of you. In her book, Kara Goucher’s Running for Women, Kara Goucher recommends that you try to see other competitors as your friends. “The idea is to beat the distance, not the person next to you,” she writes. “So hang in there, stay positive, and take positive energy from everyone around you.”

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