Sure, your legs and lungs burn, but running is just as taxing on your brain. From making the decision to lace up to fighting through each mile, “the process of running is psychological,” says Jeff Brown, Psy.D., an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School. “Mentally dealing with tough spots in running is critical.” Here’s how to practice.
Athletes who visualized themselves focused and in control developed the mental toughness needed to perform well, according to a recent study. Before your run (and if your energy flags mid-route), imagine yourself running strong around the block or across the finish line.
Find Your Mantra.
Repeat a key word or phrase during a run to reinforce positivity. Try “You’ve earned this,” “Finish strong,” or “I will.”
Sometimes the biggest hurdle is getting out the door. If you don’t feel like doing a 30-minute run, tell yourself you’ll go out for just five minutes. Once you’re in motion, chances are you’ll end up staying out much longer.
Even a halfhearted grin actually makes demanding situations much more manageable, according to researchers. Plus, you’ll look that much better in those photos they snap during the race.
photo: Randi Berez