How I Deal With Mentally Difficult Runs

I’m currently at the LAX airport waiting to board my flight to Las Vegas (yay!), but I wanted to quickly check in about how I deal with running on the days it’s just not enjoyable. As you may remember from my last post, Wednesday’s 3 mile run was a tough one. Well, Thursday’s 5 mile run wasn’t much better. 

Pre-flight snackage.
Sorry for the awkward picture, but this is a post about the “ugly” runs
In response to a week of rough runs, I decided to compile some of the head games I play with myself to get through them. Please keep in mind, these are strategies for mentally difficult runs, not for physically difficult runs that may be a telltale sign of impending injury!

  1. Let go of pace and just go for mileage. That’s what I ended up doing yesterday. Whenever I glanced down at my Garmin, I would only let myself quickly glance at the mileage at the top of my screen and not the pace at the bottom of it. 
    Average pace: 9:49 min/mile…yeesh
  2. Find your favorite song on your playlist, turn up your music, and allow your mind to just let go. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes the negative voices are too loud and I have to try something else.
  3. Find a landmark ahead of you and tell yourself you just need to make it to that point. Then, as soon as you hit it, choose a new landmark. It’s silly because you logically know what your doing, but it will often still work in the middle of a long run anyway. I will also do this with my GPS watch – just get to 3 miles, 3.25 miles, etc. Another similar strategy is to lie to myself by under exaggerating about how far I’ve gone since my last watch check. For example telling myself I’ll be happy if I’ve gone .3 of a mile when I know intuitively that I’ve more likely run .5…I’ve been running for over a decade and usually know about how far I’ve gone and then undershoot.
  4. Stop, allow yourself to have a mini pity party (don’t let it last longer than a minute) and then give yourself a 10 second pep talk and go! See yesterday’s run, hah! Just don’t give yourself more than a minute or it will be even harder to pick it back up again.
  5. Adopt a mantra. I still go back to the words of my high school cross country coach: “Hands. Heels. Knees.” Repeating it over and over until it matches my running rhythm. Feel free to use something  more inspirational 😉
  6. Think of the ice cold ____________ you have waiting for you at the end of your run. Whether it’s just cold water instead of the lukewarm water in my handheld, a Gatorade you left in my freezer, or a beer, this trick often works for me. I also used this one yesterday and made myself an iced chai tea after my run. The sugary mix and protein-packed almond milk hit the spot.
    All I thought of for the last mile of my run!

1 Comment

  1. Sarita Gralin

    July 15, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    I was never a “runner” in earnest like you are but I used to jog or ride my bike virtually daily. When I was jogging I always fell into a mantra chant and zoned out – it really was a form of meditation for me.

    I like your ideas 🙂

Leave a Reply