Mental Tips + Tricks To Overcome Running Fatigue

Long distance running is just as much a mental sport as it is a physical one. There is a quote that I love that sums it up, “Long distance running is 90% mental + the other half physical.” [Rich Davis]. The mind is a muscle too + while the best way to build mental endurance is to simply get out there + get after it, we’ve compiled our 5 top tips + tricks to overcome mental running fatigue! 

It’s true — the mind will give up long before the body will. When you start hearing that little voice inside your head turn towards the negative, “I can’t do this… What was I thinking? Why did I start this? I should quit” you need to immediately flip the script. “I got this. I can do this. I am doing this.” Sometimes it can also help to talk to yourself in the third person, “You can do this, you are doing great. Keep it up. You look awesome.” It will sound [+ feel] like you have a coach or someone cheering you on! 

This sounds so simple — but it works. The mental awareness + strength to be able to change how we talk to ourselves takes practice, so the next time you’re in a tough workout, make sure you pay attention to how you are talking to yourself! 

As your runs get farther + farther, it can help to break up the distance in your mind to more reasonable chunks. For example — if you have a long run of 9 miles coming up, that is 3, 3 mile loops. 3 miles is something you probably feel more confident running, so break up your run into 3, 3 mile sections. After you finish each section, shake out your arms + legs, take a deep breath, + pretend that you have fresh legs again ++ are just getting started. 

You can also literally make your run into loops where you know you’re never *too* far from home in case you need to take a break + grab water. Sometimes taking just 5 minutes in the middle of your run to breathe + mentally reset can be the game changer to start going. 

This is one of my favorite methods — finding something else for your mind to focus on during your long run. You can count the number of dogs you see, how many steps you take, houses with a certain color door, people wearing a hat on their run, bikers, etc. The possibilities are endless, but giving your mind something else to think about can be a great distraction on those long runs. My last marathon I focused on counting dogs + I got to 211… try to beat that ; ) 

Finding a mantra that you can repeat + come back to when the going gets tough. The best mantras are personal to you, address how you want to feel, are short ++ positive. Check out this article for more about creating mantras. ++ Check out a few of our favorites: 

  • “This is what you came for.” Scott Jurek 
  • “Be water” Bruce Lee
  • “Go for it.” 
  • “You can handle this.” 
  • “This too will pass.” 
  • “You can do hard things.” 
  • “Dig deep.” 

Sometimes what helps the most is just knowing that this is normal. It’s normal to hurt during a long run, it’s normal to have a voice come on inside your head telling you that you can’t do it… these are things that every runner experiences. Going through the *hard* is what makes running a long distance race such an accomplishment! 

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PSA: Looking for a running-focused workout program + community this summer? Always wanted to run 13.1 miles without stopping? Join CHAARG Run Club! Registration is open until May 29 — see more details here!

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