Tips For Running With Mental Toughness

Running is a struggle lately. Something that is such a strong and engrained habit has hit a wall. Being a seasoned runner, it has been difficult finding the motivation to get out and get moving.

I had spent last Saturday morning waiting in line at a local grocery store looking for essential grocery items we had not been able to find with the Cover-19 pandemic going on. It was a stressful being in line waiting to go in, even worse when you are in the store and people are choosing not to follow social distancing guidelines. The whole experience gives me anxiety.

After dropping the groceries at home, I headed out for my marathon paced workout. With the current events going on in our world right now, the motivation was hard to muster up. Two miles into my warmup I had to use the restroom and decided to text my coach:

“John, I am struggling mentally with today’s workout so I am just going to run the 11 miles for enjoyement.”

The warmup finished and my watch starts beeping-telling me that I need to start running at my marathon pace. Beep…Beep…Beep. And I hear the beeps and I say to myself “just try one mile…you can get through one mile and if you don’t feel good after that mile you can walk.”

2.5 miles later I am finished with my first rep. Wow! I did it, I can go home now, this is a win for me. Two miles of easy pace before the next rep, this is okay, take it slow.


Fine, I will try this again– I will start this second rep. I am so grateful for the first rep that even if this second rep sucks, at least I tried. Give it one mile.

Spoiler alert: I nailed the second rep and it was faster than the first.

Running is self care for me and I wasn’t going to go through the next two hours of time being anxiety ridden and upset. By texting my coach and acknowledging that I am struggling was also, in fact, giving myself grace. Finding the mental strength in running has been a goal for me and this moment was where training isn’t about the physical part…it is the mental side.

You’ve got to train your mind to be stronger than your emotions or else you’ll lose yourself everytime.

There is this piece of paper taped to my kitchen cabinet. It has been there since January and it reads:

You are NOT battling a race plan. YOU are battling YOUR feelings. You CAN’T control how you FEEL. But you do CONTROL how you act.

This workout was proof that I am getting there. Progress is being made and growth is a process. But here are some points that I have recognized as helping me move forward.

  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • It is perfectly okay to admit you are not okay.
  • You don’t have to be perfect for each workout.
  • Reaching out to someone you trust for help is strength.
  • You are allowed to change your plan/workout.
  • Take walk breaks to reset and ground yourself.
  • And ALWAYS give it ONE mile.

This is a difficult time we are going through, we are having to weather a storm. But it is a part of our process and it is really pushing me to work towards goals. Running is still a struggle but I keep persisting.

You do not wake up and become the butterfly–growth is a process. Maybe this cage has been a cocoon all along.

Stacie Martin

Do you have a way to battle these kinds of days or workouts? I’d love to know if you have any other tips or tricks that work for you. Please comment below and share for others that might need this information.

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