New to Running: The Mental Game
Because running is physical in nature, we tend to overlook the importance of mental training. Having a strong mental game is a great indicator of success and longevity in the sport but isn’t always easy to maintain, especially when you’re new to running. Just like any new skill, everything feels harder than you think it should, adjusting to a routine takes discipline, comparisons to other athletes can be deflating, physical fatigue wears on your emotions and the list goes on and on. When I onboard a new athlete to my coaching program within my personal run coaching business, I make a few suggestions that can help boost your mental game:
- Write down on paper why you decided to start running in the first place. Keep it somewhere visible to read when the going is tough.
- Find a mentor. Perspective from someone who can empathize with where you’re at and what they have done to get over the hurdles is huge.
- Comparisons kill motivation. You are unique and so is your journey. Remember that everyone you compare yourself to started somewhere also.
- This too shall pass. Practicing mental resilience only gets stronger AFTER having overcome the lows.
- Look at the big picture before you assess a bad day. Bad days are natural and expected. Bad weeks may be a sign of an underlying issue that needs remedying.
- Keep a mantra. I have a sentence that I repeat in my head over and over during hard runs. It’s something meaningful to me that reminds me that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. Some of the most successful and happy running athletes I know aren’t the most physically gifted runners. They are the ones who are better and dusting themselves off after a bad performance and showing up again the next day.