Want To Run Faster? Try Improving Your Mental Fitness!

The pressures and stress of athletic training can make even the toughest athletes succumb to negative thoughts that lower self-esteem and effect daily life. We all feel disappointed or sad when we don’t perform our best or something just doesn’t go our way. And that’s okay. But, training ourselves to mentally handle life’s challenges can help us move quickly through that negative stage and empower us to refocus and keep pursuing our goals.

Let’s say you are struggling to beat your best mile time. You’ve been pushing yourself for weeks to run faster. You’re eating the rights foods, wearing the right shoes, stretching and warming up your muscles before every run- you’re doing everything you can, but it’s just not happening. You see friends reaching their fitness goals, your coach is telling you “just keep practicing,” and you’ve mentally chanted all of the motivational pick-me-ups you know. You begin to feel stuck and “I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never do this,” and “I should just give up,” are your new mental chants. It’s a trap many of us fall into. Let’s get out of it.

1.    Get out of your routine.

Change up your run, or take a break from running altogether. It can be hard to break from routine, but even things like changing the time and location of your run can feel like a breath of fresh air. Instead of running for a few days, play a game of tennis with a friend or go for a long bike ride. Monotony gets boring and it can worsen that feeling of being stuck. Change things up for awhile to give your mood a much-needed boost.

2.    Tell off those negative thoughts!

Begin to recognize when you have those negative chants running through your head. Start telling them how useless they are, and that you are not falling for it. Those thoughts are only trying to drag you down. You know you can reach your goals and run faster, but sometimes your mind tries to trick you. Take a deep breath and tell those useless thoughts they are not welcome here!

3.    Set goals outside of running.

Have a time-consuming school project coming up? Chart a timeline for completing sections of the work and stick to it. Or, maybe there is something you want to buy but can’t afford right now? Set goals for how to earn the money. As you attain these other goals, you’ll hopefully see how great you are at other things, too. Beating this one goal may be important to you, but you have many talents, dreams, and needs. Find balance and celebrate any and all goals you achieve.