Mental toughness is a crucial trait for runners to develop as it helps them stay focused and motivated, especially when they encounter physical or mental challenges. Have you ever been cruising along on a run, when all of a sudden negative thoughts cause you to breathe harder, slow down, and sometimes, even stop?
The Seal Mentality
As hard as many runners train, it is often the mind that most affects performance, whether it's in a high-stakes race or a jog around the neighborhood.
For those that know me, you know that I enjoy the way the Navy Seals train. One of the mantras in Seal Training is the phrase "maximum benefit." Take for example a rain storm. If you're out running, and it stars pouring rain, most people can't wait to get home. The run itself is no longer fun, you're cold and wet, and you quickly start thinking about the fastest, most-direct way home. If you think like this, you're like most people, but you're not a Navy Seal. Instead of looking at the rain as a negative, the Seals see it as an opportunity. Running in the sunshine is easy. Now, they have the opportunity to get that much better, stronger, and tougher because it's raining. What a difference in mindset! Those external things are no longer detracting from the experience; they are enhancing it.
As you review the list below, think about that mindset and how you can apply it to your own life.
Here are ten ways to build mental toughness in runners:
The list you just read is exactly that, a list. It doesn't become meaningful until you put a plan of action against it.
What might that look like? For starters, don't try to bite off more than you can chew. Think through each concept and how it applies to your running. Do you struggle with consistency? Are you challenging yourself enough? When is the last time you did something new?
Embracing discomfort may simply be running another minute on the treadmill than you're used to. Maybe the next week, you run two additional minutes or slightly increase the speed. Or, maybe you add a couple sprints to the end of your workout.
The point here is simple: create a plan for yourself and hold yourself accountable. Most of us know what we should be doing. Psychologically, even the act of writing something down makes actually doing it a higher priority. Don't sell yourself short by being unorganized.
For other tips on mental toughness and motivation, check out our list of Best Motivational Books here.
For those that learn better visually, the video below has some great tips from elite runners.
John Willkom is the author of Amazon best-selling basketball books: Walk-On Warrior and No Fear In The Arena. John is an avid reader, sports fan, and father to two incredible little girls.
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