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How to Push Yourself Mentally While Running

author image Stan Mack
Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.
How to Push Yourself Mentally While Running
A man and woman are running outside together. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Overall, regular exercise improves your health, energy levels and mental outlook. Still, sometimes it’s difficult to push yourself to perform a draining activity, such as running for long distances or sprinting at high speeds. Running regularly is the best way to raise your endurance level, but employing special mental techniques can help you keep running when you want to quit. If you’re training for an event, such as a marathon, practice using these techniques often so you can push yourself mentally in high-pressure situations.

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Step 1

Break down large goals into small, achievable steps. For example, if you have a long-distance run ahead of you, focus on a single lap at a time, or pick a nearby landmark and commit yourself to reaching it. Push away any thoughts of the overall task ahead of you, and concentrate only on your current goal.

Step 2

Visualize yourself completing the run successfully if negative thoughts are discouraging you. For example, imagine crossing the finish line first and all the feelings that would accompany that feat. If you can limit your imagination to positive outcomes only, your fears will evaporate and you will feel motivated to keep going.

Step 3

Concentrate on details other than your fatigue to distract yourself. For instance, if you are in a race, watch a runner far in front of you and think about the colors of her clothing or the tread of her shoes. If you are running by yourself, note the mailboxes and homes you pass, or watch the passing cars.

Step 4

Choose a mantra, or hypnotic phrase, to help you stave off negative feelings. A mantra is a phrase that you repeat to yourself to focus your mind. Say it internally to the rhythm of your footsteps to strengthen its hypnotic effect.

Step 5

Listen to the support of the crowd if you are participating in an event, or think of the pride your loved ones will feel after you successfully finish the race.

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