Mental Training For Runners And Its Role In Success

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10k personal bestMental training for runners

We have a choice in this sport of how good we want to be and mental training for runners is a fundamental not enough are seeking.

We have the physical aspect of it down very well but how often are we training mentally?

Your job isn’t seeking out to be an Olympic Trials qualifier or making a World or Olympic Team unless that is truly in your heart.

I didn’t want to create a site specifically for elite runners although I will certainly help someone seeking mentorship.

My heart has always been and always will be with the hungry, determined athlete.

I am interested in someone who has zero talent but undeniable heart and work ethic.

Talent that doesn’t work will never beat the long term, determined athlete who refuses to stop hustling until he or she reaches their goal.

You can’t talk about how fast you have run and gloat about it.

There is someone in the world who wants it more and you don’t have the time to rest on your last race.

Celebrate your win, placing or weight loss achievement but don’t stop hustling.

Running is more then just times you have run, pace you have held and cash won at races.

People need someone to give a shit about them.

Far too many athletes are not told often enough four simple but life changing words, ‘I believe in you”.

I don’t have the magic formula for success in this sport.

I have failed more often than I have succeeded but my failures have only made me more determined and dangerous every time I toe the line as it should you.

What Matters

You can’t sit back like the majority of the world does and talk about wanting to do something.

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, tomorrow a 30-mile run will feel like a 2-mile jog.

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.

A mentally tough athlete will be willing to persist to see the changes occur.

The one with less love and patience will not and thus wonder what could have been.

You have the choice.

There Are No Shortcuts

Expect to fail, expect to succeed but don’t expect everything to be perfect.

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

True mental training for runners consists of endless work and the tireless athlete is the most successful.

Hitting a specific goal time or getting to your dream weight is not going to fall in your lap.

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.

There has to be a decision made and with that takes an action plan that is going to get us to our destination.

I am writing this post for my own personal motivation, as well as to help assist you in getting to new levels in your own running.

Achieve Great Objectives

An easy goal is not inspiring.

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

Not a whole lot.

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 yet we give her most of our attention and leave the mental training up to the race.

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

They seek it out and yearn for it.

It takes no extra skill on your part to go out for an easy run and anyone can do it.

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.

They 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

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 I don’t discuss my story to gloat.

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

What I do want to see is you seek out after difficult goals, dream difficult dreams and persist because the alternative is to let up.

Do those who let up or quit their goals less deserving?

Absolutely not but unlike money and career, which everyone chases time is limited.

You need to act and act now.

You and I are not guaranteed a tomorrow.

The time to go after a Boston Qualifier, a new personal best or qualify for the Olympic Trials is now, not when we get around to it or when the opportunity is right.

There will never be a right time.

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 on 13 years.

“You only have a little over 9 years and you can retire” is what I hear.

Who guaranteed me a retirement?

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

You go to a race knowing you can win but there is no one on the line who can push you to the limit.

Pick Tough Races

What motivates someone to take the easy route. I suppose it depends on the individual’s goal.

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

How about taking 3rd place, not winning but lowering your marathon by 20 minutes?

Your definition of ‘winning’ may slightly changed.

You finished 3rd but you might as well won having bettered your old best by 20-minutes.

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. I was happy as a kid in a candy store.

I also took home $1000.00. It didn’t matter, going after a difficult time knowing I more than likely wasn’t going to win, did matter.

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.

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We rely on security, playing it safe, do as your told and believe in what is ‘possible’.

What about striving for the impossible, stopping to think about doing something that is way out of your character?

I have always had issues with the normal train of thought.

Our personnel on the Hill can work two years in Congress and get one hundred percent of their base pay, yet our men and women in uniform work 20 years, risk their lives and get forty percent.

People retire when they are in their late 20’s yet we are forced to follow the safe route, work 20-30 years and retire.

We are taught to think in a specific, organized way our society says is right.

You taking the next step in your running is to demand more out of yourself and start asking yourself questions that those around you may not be asking of themselves.

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’.

What if I do 12 miles at goal pace and jog the last 8 miles?

Which is the more difficult, challenging route to go?

You have what it takes, but part of being mentally trained is also shying away from the status quo train of thought.

You can’t expect to break a 4 hour marathon when you listen to what you have been told your whole life.

You are in the arena, you are not a spectator like those who choose to belittle you.

There Is No Fun In Playing It Safe

The fact that someone has told you that you don’t have the talent to run that unheard of time goal, too slow to get it done, irritates me.

The comfort zone is not our friend.

Mental training for runners is essential.

It is the missing part of the success puzzle and sometimes we can do everything right physically and miss the goal because we didn’t set aside some time for mental rehearsal of what we are trying to do.


It could be for many reasons but when we think of all our hours training physically how much of our weekly training schedule was devoted to mental training?

I’d say far too little.

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 continue to persist when the others around them say it is too difficult, have had enough, move on.

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

I firmly believe this because I lived it.

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, nearly a full minute faster per mile run.

I visualized several times a day and although I held a respectable marathon time of 2.43.36 it wasn’t sufficient to be a part of the US Army World Class Athlete Program and it wasn’t fast enough to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

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 lying on the floor away from your cell phone, television and life’s other distractors?

I guarantee you those achieving dreams you want are.

Keep hustling.


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

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