Mental Training For Runners: Tips To Perform Your Best

Mental Training For Runners

Mental training for runners is a fundamental that will guarantee your success. It is pretty easy to get some of it. Go out and start running.

mental training for runners

Your focus may not be to be  an Olympic Trials qualifier or making a World or Olympic Team. Perhaps it is. Additionally, the faster you are seeking to run the more specific training is going to be involved.

I didn’t want to create a site specifically for elite runners The goal here has been to help all athletes, regardless of ability level. I have created 5K to marathon training plans specifically for beginner to advanced-level athletes.

That being said, my focus here is to help runners to start using leverage in their training. Leverage simply means doing more with less. I am more impressed with the athlete that possesses work ethic than one that is merely talented.

I’ve seen a lot of talented runners who didn’t really work that hard.

Furthermore, what these runners do have is leverage. They leverage their talent and get better results with less work.

Those that don’t have a lot of talent have to make up for it working much harder. That being said, one with little talent can still utilize leverage and get great results

What Matters

Are you interested or are you fully committed? There is a massive difference between interest versus commitment.

You are either in or out.

Your goal may be just to enjoy running more.

Practice running more often and gradually lengthening the distance of your runs.

Today 2 miles may feel like a 30-mile run. That being said, tomorrow’s 30-mile run will feel like a 2-mile jog. The body always adapts to the stress we place on it. Lastly, the challenge is being patient and allowing the physiological effects to take place.

The body will adapt to the stress you are willing to place on it but you have to be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to see the changes occur within your body.

So, a mentally tough athlete will be willing to persist to see the changes occur.

Remember, we all have a choice over  our thoughts and attitude.

There Are No Shortcuts

I wish there was an easy way to get fit. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. It takes endless, often times monotonous hard work.

Keep in mind the greatest athletes in the world have had to suffer setbacks along the way.

True mental training for runners consists of persistent and consistent training.

Hitting a specific goal time or getting to your dream weight is not going to fall in your lap. These goals are achievable. Furthermore, find those that have done what you want to do in the sport and simply duplicate their work habits. This is the secret to top level running.

You and I have a choice in everything we do whether it pertains to running, changes to our lifestyle or where we are going to go next.

Optimal performance comes from consistent and persistent training. You really have to be patient. Furthermore, training for a 5K or marathon is great mental training for runners. You’re asking to spend long periods of time on your feet. In addition, much of those miles are spent at high speeds.

Achieve Great Objectives

An easy goal is not inspiring.

What does running a 5 hour marathon do for a 5.00.02 marathoner?

Not much. This isn’t a challenging enough goal.

A 4.30 marathon will truly challenge a 5 hour marathon runner.

His or her capacity will be stretched to the limit.

Alas, this is where true success stems from.

Preparing for a big goal takes more than just physical preparation.

A mentally prepared athlete is one that is not afraid of an intimidating goal.

Furthermore, the successful seek out and run toward challenging goals.

It takes no extra skill on your part to go out for an easy run.  That being said, it takes skill and hard work to run long distances at faster paces.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Everyone has skill but far too often we don’t stretch our limits.

We have one setback and we give into the pre-conceived notion that our best days are behind us.

The mentally prepared runner knows no age or limits.

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These athletes persist until the goal is accomplished.

People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you’re doing, and it’s totally true. The reason is because it’s so hard that if you don’t, any rational person would give up. It’s really hard, and you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, you don’t really love it, you’re gonna give up.   And that’s what happens to most people actually. If you really look at the ones who ended up being successful in the eyes of society and the ones who didn’t, often times it’s the ones that are successful who loved what they did so they could persevere when it got really tough. And the ones who didn’t love it, quit, because they’re sane, right? Who would want to put up with this stuff if you don’t love it. So it’s a lot of hard work, and it’s a lot of worrying, constantly, and if you don’t love it, you’re gonna fail. So you gotta love it, you’ve gotta have passion. – Steve Jobs

Patience Is Everything

Sub 2.22.00 Marathon Dreams, But I am Still ‘Just’ A 2.43 Marathonermental training runners

I have been humbled plenty of times in my own quests for excellence in our sport.

That being said, I was certain one day I would break the sub-2:22:00 marathon barrier.

It was the 2008 USA Track and Field Olympic Trials “B” standard time. It took 10 months to go from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35.

How does anyone drop that amount of time that quick? Remember, I started running marathons in 2002. It wasn’t until 2007 until I broke the sub-2:20:00 marathon barrier. It took 10 months because I started training properly.

What is your goal? Is it to qualify for the Boston Marathon? Are you focused on running your first 5K? You need to take action now. Be fully committed.

We’re not guaranteed tomorrow.

So, the time to go after a Boston Qualifier, a new personal best or qualify for the Olympic Trials is now.

There will never be a right time.

In addition to that, the more we delay the more time flies and the next thing you know the resistance to start has won the battle.

I have been in the Army on active duty for going over nearly 17 years.

You only have a little over 3 years and you can retire…

is what I hear.

This has to be earned. Additionally, no one is handing me a military retirement. It takes 20 years of commitment to earn a retirement in the Armed Forces.

The comfort zone should always be avoided because it doesn’t bring out the best in us.

Pick Tough Races

A win is always nice, builds confidence and family may be there to witness it.

How about taking the place and lowering your marathon by 20 minutes?

Your definition of ‘winning’ may slightly change.

I felt this way when I broke 2.20.00 for the marathon and took 4th place.

I might as well have won a gold medal that day.

In addition, I also took home $1000.00.

Always go where you will be tested and don’t be afraid of it, this is the mark of a mentally tough and trained runner.


We have been taught to rely on security and to play it safe.

I have always had issues with the normalcy. It surrounds all of us.

78 percent of the American population is living paycheck to paycheck.

We are taught to play it safe.

You taking the next step in your running is to demand more out of yourself.

Start asking questions like

Will doing 20 mile runs 2 minutes slower than my personal best get me to my dream time for 26.2 miles?

Also, what if I do 12 miles at goal pace and jog the last 8 miles?

Which one do you think will help you achieve your goal more effectively? I hope you picked option 2.

You can’t expect to break a 4 hour marathon  running 90 percent of your weekly mileage above 9:09 mile pace.

Status Quo Mindset

So, the comfort zone is not our friend. In addition, neither is conformity. People experience this on a daily basis. The successful choose to do the opposite.

Mental training for runners is essential.

In addition, you have to believe in delayed gratification. Are you process or event driven? Process is what creates results. Also, the event is a result of that process and hard work.

You have to have an outlier mindset.

“Outlier” is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience.-Malcom Gladwell

The mentally tough runner will persist and stay consistent toward their goals.

Closing Thoughts

Success has to start in the mind before you can ever see it becoming reality.

I firmly believe this because I lived it.

Also, I didn’t know how to go from averaging 6.14 per mile pace to 5.25 per mile pace for 26.2 miles.

It was a daunting task but my love for making that goal a reality was too strong for it not to become real in my life.

I went on to average 5.19 per mile for the marathon distance.

What are you doing outside of your physical training to make massive gains?

Are you asking tough questions?

Have you written down your goals?

Are you spending 10-20 minutes a day visualizing yourself succeeding?

Lastly, Hurt. Adapt and repeat until your goal becomes a realization in your life and doesn’t just resonate in your mind.

I hope this post on mental training for runners has been helpful to you. Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new content there each week to help runners like you get to the next level in their training and racing.

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