5 Things Mentally Strong Runners Do

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You’ve probably met one of those runners that never seem nervous before a race or they don’t complain or talk negatively about running. Maybe you are one of those runners.  But, since you are reading this article, I’m thinking that maybe you want to know how those people do it. So, what's their secret? What do mentally strong runners do that helps them deal with pre-race anxiety or avoid post-race blues?  Here are some habits of mentally tough runners:

1. They learn from a bad race and then move on.

Everyone has had a race where they felt like they didn’t do their best, but mentally strong runners don’t dwell on it. They think about things that they could have done differently and consider what they would change for next time. Some runners find that it helps to write down their thoughts about a race, either on a blog or training journal, and others talk about it with their running buddies. But once they’ve done their brief post-race analysis, they move on and don’t let a poor performance interfere with their training and future races.

2. They focus on their own performance, not others’.

Mentally strong runners don’t give a lot of thought to what other runners are doing.  They focus on being the best runner they can be, given their athletic ability, capacity to train, and other individual circumstances. They realize that they may reach plateaus in their racing and that it’s important to set realistic goals so they have something to focus on and celebrate once they reach it.

3. They tune out negative people.

There are always going to be Negative Nellies telling you that you shouldn’t run or that there's no way you’re going to reach a personal running goal. Mentally strong people change the conversation if someone starts spouting negative comments. They start talking about something other than running, or talk about some positive aspects of the sport. They also do their best to avoid interactions with negative people in the first place.

4. They think about the things they can control. 

Stressing about things they can’t control, such as the weather or how they’ll feel on race day, can be a big source of pre-race anxiety for runners. Mentally tough runners focus on things that they can control, such as resting before a big race, eating the right foods, staying hydrated, and what they need to pack and wear for their race. Not only do they feel prepared for their race, but focusing on all the preparations ends up being a good distraction.

5. They think about what they’ve done to prepare.

Mentally strong runners don’t give into periods of self-doubt and they don't second-guess their training. They remind themselves that they’ve worked hard to get ready for a race. They review their training logs or think back to those training runs during which they felt mentally and physically strong. They talk to coaches and positive running buddies who remind them that they’re ready to take on their next challenge.

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