Walking Guide

How Thinking Like an Athlete Can Help New Runners

By , Amanda C. Brooks, Run to the Finish
Tired of struggling through each run? Wondering what other people know that you don't? How do the elite runners make it look so easy?
 
Besides the 100-mile weeks, specific eating plans, daily massages and naps, elite runners are just like you. While their training and commitment might be just slightly more intense, any runner can adopt an elite runner's way of thinking to tackle challenging daily runs or races. As with any physical taxing activity, finding success as a runner comes down to being mentally tough to overcome the voice in your head telling you to stop when your heart starts beating faster and your breath becomes more labored.
 
To push a little farther, stay focused on your ultimate race or pace goals, or just to learn to enjoy your run more, focus on implementing these tips sports psychologists offer elite runners.
 

Stop Focusing on the How


Rather than focusing on how you should run, focus instead on what you want and start acting. Analysis paralysis—the act of overanalyzing an action until you are unable to make any decision—can keep people from achieving their ultimate goals. Instead of acting, we keep putting things off by looking for more information to ensure we are doing things "perfectly."
 
The truth is, there is no perfect and simply taking action is going to move you farther along than spending days, weeks or months trying to figure out the best workout, the best diet or best running shoe. Take advantage of your burst of motivation to do something—anything!—that will leave you feeling good about your goals.
 

Flow Don't Force


Exerting force against something rather than flowing around it requires a tremendous amount of physical and mental effort. Consider the Grand Canyon and the way water flowed around, under and over boulders, slowly and effectively carving the gorgeous creation over time. Your body is under construction and working with it, rather than forcing it to perform, will result in something incredible.
 
Instead of forcing yourself to do workouts you hate, start with the ones you love. I'm not a fan of the track, for example, which means I started adding random intervals to my runs or increasing the pace for a few miles rather than forcing myself into a dreaded workout. No one will stick with a program they hate, so take your time experimenting and finding one that you actually look forward to doing.
 

Intentionally Make Mistakes


Let go of the need for perfection and you might find it easier to simply do the task at hand. I really love this idea of just making a mistake to get it out of the way and release any self-inflicted pressure.
 
Remember the first time you dinged your new car? Suddenly you thought, "Okay, well that happened and it's no longer perfect so I don't need to obsess about where I park anymore." Once you've had a bad run or fallen off your perfectly planned meal schedule, take a moment to realize it wasn't such a big deal. You can still exercise tomorrow. You can still focus on eating healthy at your next meal. It's not the end of the world or the end of your journey to health.
 
You've learned something new, dusted yourself off and moved forward—and that mentality will ultimately make you stronger in the future.
 

Calm Mind, Big Results


Great competitors believe they will win. Not because of ego, but because it allows them to use every practice to focus on what they need to do instead of wasting energy being anxious or worried about the outcome.
 
Visualizing yourself crossing the finish line with a massive fist pump and smile is going to take you so much farther in training than the fear of "what if it doesn't go well?" It can take some time to adjust your head to get on board with this more Zen approach to your workout, but if you can get there and allow your body to work and perform at its best level you'll be rewarded with feelings of pride no matter the result.
 

Stop Setting B and C Goals


This one hurts at first because it goes against everything we've been taught, but the logic is sound. Once you say to yourself "I'll be happy if I just do B," then your body and mind no longer have the need to push for A come race day. You're essentially telling yourself it's okay to settle before the gun sounds.
 
You don't need to be on the podium to be a successful runner. Honestly, you don't even need to race if that's not what you enjoy. Changing your mindset to be more flexible and accepting of your physical capabilities will ensure you get more out of every run, and you'll suddenly start to notice how it bleeds over into other goals. 

About the Author Amanda Brooks is an eight-time marathon finisher, long-time running coach and fitness writer. She also runs Run to the Finish, a blog resource for runners. She not only loves the sport but appreciates finding new ways to learn more and foster a sense of community among fellow runners. 

What mental tricks do you utilize during your runs? 

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Comments

KHALIA2 8/30/2018
Great article! Report
RHOOK20047 8/24/2018
Useful information. Report
JEWELZEE- 8/9/2018
I don't run anymore, but when I did, I always thought about how athletic I looked, even if I didn't : ) Report
MNABOY 8/4/2018
Thanks again! Report
KHALIA2 7/28/2018
I love to walk, but hate to run. I have to get there! Report
IRONADONIS 7/22/2018
Thank you. Report
TOMATOCAFEGAL 7/12/2018
will never be a runner but good advice to know. Report
BIKE4HEALTH 7/11/2018
Great info....thanks Report
LOSER05 7/11/2018
Great. Report
SUSIEMT 7/10/2018
I wish I could make myself run but I have zero interest in running. Oh well! Report
SHOAPIE 7/10/2018
Thank you. Report
4CONNIESHEALTH 7/10/2018
Very helpful. Always take things at your level. "go with the flow". Report
PLCHAPPELL 7/10/2018
Rethink "elite" in your own context. Report
AJB121299 7/9/2018
nice Report
CHRIS3874 7/9/2018
Right now that's the LAST thing that I feel like!! Report
PICKIE98 7/9/2018
If running was not so harmful on the skeletal system, I would have done it fifty years ago. Walking briskly is just as beneficial. Report
PICKIE98 7/9/2018
If running was not so harmful on the skeletal system, I would have done it fifty years ago. Walking briskly is just as beneficial. Report
SWILSON2347 7/9/2018
Intersting! I push myself to run.....think I need to get into the "let it go" mindset and just try to enjoy running instead of thinking of it as a hard task.
Report
97MONTY 7/9/2018
Thanks for the information Report
AZMOMXTWO 7/9/2018
thank you Report
DOLPH79 7/9/2018
I just started jogging in place again. I don't know if I'll ever have a real race but I like these tips. Report
NEPTUNE1939 7/9/2018
TY
Report
TCANNO 7/9/2018
It really does help Report
_CYNDY55_ 7/8/2018
Thanks! Report
SIMPLYDELIGHTED 7/6/2018
Thanks for the good information. Report
MNABOY 7/5/2018
Thanks Report
RHOOK20047 7/4/2018
A real great article with some good suggestions. Report
_CYNDY55_ 7/4/2018
Thanks, great! Report
MUSICNUT 7/4/2018
Thanks for a great article! :) Report
ZRIE014 7/4/2018
great article Report
KATHYJO56 7/4/2018
good information Report
AIYANASMAMA 7/3/2018
Thanks for the info Report
1CRAZYDOG 7/3/2018
Like this information! Thanks Report
ROBBIEY 7/3/2018
good article Report
MBPP50 7/3/2018
Awesome! Report
USMAWIFE 7/3/2018
great article Report
DMEYER4 7/3/2018
awesome article Report
ARNETTELEE 7/3/2018
great article. Report
JANIEWWJD 7/3/2018
Awesome article!!! Report
MOONDRAGON29 7/3/2018
Very helpful article. Report
2DAWN4 7/3/2018
So glad hat I stumbled across this article! Report
ZRIE014 7/3/2018
very helpful article Report
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