Mental Training


Monday: 6m easy 9:40/pace, 15 min myrtls 

Tuesday: 30 min trx legs/shoulders

Wednesday: 9m tempo (2m warm up, 4 x 1.5m @ 6:49/pace, 1/2m cool down)

I’ve mentioned plenty of times that i feel like my mental game has been spot on the last couple training cycles. I think it comes with age, experience, lots of advice from other runners & of course, practice. I’m not perfect at mental training, but i’ve come so far and recent breakthroughs have made me a much happier runner.

Let’s start by all the things i used to do wrong. If i stopped running to take a walk break I would get discouraged and have an internal, negative self-talk. If i was “slow” I would tell myself I’ll never hit ____ goal. If i even hinted at being tired or hurting during a race I would kind of give up. I’d tell myself I couldn’t make it the whole distance at the pace and again battled negativity. I was too slow, not good enough, etc until I crossed the finish line. I gave up before even attempting giving it my all. I was already writing the “I didn’t PR” blog post in my i was still running mid-race. Sad, but those negative feelings have crossed my mind way too often.

Except over the last year. I finally defeated that negative jerk. Here’s how:

Being positive. It seems so simple, but it does take a lot of motivational, happy self-talk to run positive. Always remember, running should be fun! Fake a smile and remember why you’re doing your training run. For me, even though my time goal is daunting, reminding myself i’m shooting for the stars, makes me smile a little. A nervous smile, sure, but a smile goes a long way with running. Seriously, try smiling. It relaxes me and makes me feel so happy.

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I’ve learned to take the good runs with the bad. You can’t be a great runner without the challenge of a run that doesn’t go well. When i’m having a “bad run” I determine what’s bad about the run and adjust. I don’t let the tired legs or weather or hills consume me anymore. I greet it as a challenge. I welcome it as a training partner.  I’ve been so much more flexible on pace, listening to my body and not stressing out when things don’t go perfect. When the watch isn’t reflecting my effort I hide it and focus on effort and running strong. Being adaptable was a huge difference this cycle than previous years.

Envision the race. During many tough runs i’ve pictured the finish line, crossing it, smiling, jumping, seeing friends at the end. It’s super motivating not only to visualize meeting your goals, but having a fun race and crossing the line a very happy runner!

Practice gratitude. I do this often, on sunny days when running is easy and when its tough and my body is tired. I take a few deep breaths and remind myself how grateful I am to be able to run. How extremely grateful and lucky i am to have all of my limbs and be healthy.

When your mind is screaming at you to stop, try focusing on body parts that feel good. Shoulders? Back? Calves? I don’t care what random part feels good just focus, it will distract you from the racing pain because it forces you to focus on a positive thing.


well said.

And when focusing on the body doesn’t help it’s time to call in your motivational mantras! Mantras are so important for endurance sports. There will be many times where it gets tough and you’ll want to quit, use your mantras to stay alert and focused on the task at hand. I have three i’ve been using during this training cycle. “Relax & Breathe” This one helps me check in with breathing and form (relax the shoulders, run tall, arms swinging forward, not across the chest). “I am a Machine” – Something about the word machine, helps me feel strong and rhythmic. And lastly, this has been an oldie but a goodie, “I’m a Big Brave Dog” Yes it’s from Rugrats, yes it’s a little goofy, but it works like a charm every time, making me feel like a fearless little kid.


I read this quote recently and it hits home. I’m not meant to be in harbor. I’m meant to deal with the changes in tide, the unpredictable weather. I am a ship. I am a machine. I am a big brave dog.

Be patient with the process. Be patient with your goals. Be patient with your body.

And most importantly, be patient with yourself. 

Author: She's Going the Distance


20 thoughts on “Mental Training

  1. My favorite post of yours. And yes, I read them all. 🙂 Good luck on your island to island 1/2. Sail away!

  2. positivity, gratitude, and patience. what a trifecta. 🙂 love it.

  3. Thank you for the reminder. Even though I know better, sometimes it’s just *so* easy to get frustrated and lose confidence over a single bad workout. It’s such a silly thing to do because of course every workout is not going to be OMG the best workout EVAH!!!! But it’s so easy to get impatient and expect all the progress right away.

  4. Totally going to remember this when I’m finally allowed to start running far again. I’m guilty of so many of these things.

  5. I’ve been trying this same game with myself lately too – when I’m running up a stupid hard hill I try to work through it with more positive self talk. Not sure if it’s helping me run better, but it definitely makes it more enjoyable!

  6. Love this Cori! Mantras are the way to go – “I can do hard things”, and focusing on distractions during the race – funny signs, interesting outfits and interesting sights. And the big brave dog – that I have not heard before!

  7. Your doggy is sooo sooo adorable! I totally agree with running mantras. I also try to focus on breathing and ponder on something while running, so it goes by faster 🙂

  8. Great post! I’m really working on the positive and being in the moment – teaching myself to appreciate the sucky parts of a run. But I haven’t heard the advice to focus on body parts that feel good – gonna try that this wknd. Definitely check in with my breathing – whether during a run or stress – thanks to a friend and yoga. To the point I believe “breathe” will be inked on my forearm. Run on, big brave dog!

  9. This is a fantastic post and hits pretty much everything that I have or am struggling with currently. Thanks, Cori! Good luck with your Island to Island 1/2 Marathon!

    • it’s so nice to hear that many runners deal with the same stuff. It’s hard to write these posts sometimes because of feeling so vulnerable and alone, but everyone seems to go through the same running struggles, so i’m glad this is helping!

  10. Awesome tips!!! I always say running is such a mental sport and I feel like that’s the piece which takes us longer to train than our legs sometimes!

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