Mindset: Your Most Important Running Tool
Updated: Jun 14
Your mindset is more important than your body’s abilities when it comes to running. Your thought process can make or break your run, no matter how your legs and lungs feel when it’s time to hit the pavement.
I recommend adding two hugely beneficial mindset exercises into your fitness routine:
Reframing your thoughts and focus
Practicing running mantras
How to Reframe Your Thoughts
Bad running days happen to everyone, regardless of experience level, so don’t get discouraged. If you’re new to running, it’s common to hit a roadblock a few weeks into your training plan. And if you’re training for a long distance race, physical and mental fatigue is unavoidable.
To combat self-doubt, waning confidence and low motivation, try to think positively and intentionally.
If you’re finding it hard to get out of the door due to bad weather or a less-than-stellar mood, replace those discouraging thoughts with why you’re grateful. Perhaps it’s the fact that you’re able to run, your running program is helping you feel healthier, or you’ve been able to push past perceived limitations and will continue to do so.
If your run doesn’t go as expected, remember that progress isn’t linear and rough running days are unavoidable.
Instead of feeling like you’ve failed, focus on what went well. You completed the run, right? You persevered when it was tough, which builds character. Plus, the sooner you get a bad run out of the way, the sooner you can have a better one. Bad days happen to us all, and what matters is how you react to them.
It may even help you to journal positive thoughts like these before or after your training session. Keeping a written training log (not just a digital tracker) is a great motivational tool. However you do it, take a few minutes around each run to reframe your thoughts and write down your wins.
Use Rewards as Incentives
For some of us, tangible rewards are hugely motivating.
Maybe your treat is getting to run with a friend that day or having a nice hot cup of coffee on the couch when you return. When you’re planning to run on a particularly busy or bad-weather day, try to schedule a reward in advance, like a relaxing bath, to give yourself something to look forward to afterward. And maybe at the end of a successful training month, you can finally buy some running apparel you’ve had your eye on?
Find Your Running Mantra
Mantras – affirmations or statements you repeat to yourself frequently – are another powerful tool to improve your mindset. They can inspire you, motivate you, and push you when things get tough.
Don’t know where to start when delivering positive messages to yourself? Here are some mantras for you to experiment with:
You can do this.
One step at a time.
You've got this.
Light, fast, strong.
Swift and smooth.
Light it up.
You've trained for this.
I am fearless.
I am strong.
Never give up.
You are ready for this.
Show up and shine.
Keep your focus.
You can handle this.
Try them out; find what phrases you are most drawn to. For many people, it's more effective to use “you” instead of “I”, because it will help you distance yourself from the physical fatigue and replicate the feeling of having someone cheer you on from the sidelines.
Start by keeping two or three of these in your back pocket to repeat on your more challenging running days to stay motivated at any point along the way. Maybe you have different ones to find the boost for a fast finish, get through the last miles of a long run, or keep pushing up a hill!
Learn to cheer for yourself like you would for a friend. I promise: the way you speak to yourself makes all the difference.
For running motivation and inspiration, check out our running membership and community for women! Our community supports and encourages each other through low motivation, bad running days, and celebrates the wins and the successes of every runner.