When doing something difficult, it often helps to have a positive phrase to repeat in your mind to help get you through. When you are running a difficult distance, you have probably used a mantra, whether you were aware of it or not. The opposite of a mantra would be talking to yourself negatively. Such as, “I’m so tired” “I can’t do this” “Just stop running” “Why do I even care about finishing”.
The scary thing, but also the amazing thing, is that your brain will believe what you tell it. If you repeat to yourself that you are tired and that running is too hard, then your body will feel even more tired than it already was and you will most likely end up quitting! Whereas, if you tell yourself, “I can do this” “I will do this” “I am strong” ect, it will help you get to that finish line.
There is a book called The Great Little Book of Afformations, and he talks about how rather than telling yourself something positive, you should instead ask yourself an empowering question without answering,. Your brain will automatically start looking for answers. An example would be, “Why am I capable of what I set my mind to?” your brain will start looking for proof of why that is true. Whereas if you say a statement, your brain doesn’t go into effect in that same way. Basically, when you ask a question but don’t give an answer, your brain will search for an answer and will make yourself believe in the truth of the question. If that makes sense.
I still use positive phrases, but I like to have positive questions I ask myself while running as well.
It’s also important to not beat yourself up about a bad run or a bad race. In another book called Change Anything, they use the phrase, “turn bad days into good data”. Even the bad runs, the bad races, the bad training cycles, are good because they can be learned from.
When I’m have a hard time with a training run, I remind myself that these days when I’m not in the flow, are the days when I am learning and preparing the most. Especially when training for a distance race. Over the course of 26.2 miles (which will actually be longer, find out how long is a marathon) it’s a long enough time that things are bound to get difficult at some point. If all of your training runs went smooth and didn’t have rough runs, than you won’t be prepared for when things get difficult! That’s also why it’s so important to do the proper training for whatever race it is you are running. (Speaking of which, find out here what it takes to run a marathon!)
During a training cycle, I was running in Draper and there was an especially large hill and as I was running up, to get me through I was repeating my goal finish time in my head. I realized though that repeating a time wasn’t doing it for me. I then starting thinking of what it would feel like to achieve that goal time. Bingo! That worked much better. So that has become another kind of mantra, where I repeat positive words to myself. Words that describe what I am, and what I will feel when I achieve my goal.
Another strategy is to think of those you love. Some people will dedicate a mile to someone, and they think of them during that mile. Then the next mile, they think of whoever they dedicated that mile to. Thinking of those that love and support you helps give you strength to keep going-especially if said person is waiting for you at the finish! Also thinking of someone who has gone through something difficult and has persevered and stayed strong in life despite their trials can also help you feel inspired and to keep running.
If you write a mantra on your arm, or wear a bracelet reminding you, that can also help. During the race, especially if you hit the wall, it can make it hard to remember your positive phrases and why you are running in the first place. Having a phrase to look down and see, or a bracelet reminding you, will help bring it back and give you that second wind you need (or third, fourth or fifth wind!)
If you are religious or spiritual, than having a scripture verse, or something along those lines helps a lot too. Below I have some mantras and words I have used in training runs or during a race itself.
“I learn the most from hard runs”
“What I say, my body believes”
“I can, and I will”
“The fun is in the run” I used this one while running my first marathon!
“One foot in front of the other”
“Just keep running”
“I like running when it’s easy, I love running when it’s hard”
“Lean mean running machine”
“Body more than raiment” (a scripture verse I like because it’s about how we are meant to put our bodies to good use)
“When I run, I feel God’s joy” A quote from Chariot’s of Fire
“I am stronger/tougher than this race/hill/mile”
“The faster I run, the sooner I’m done”
“Run for those who can’t”
“Run the mile I’m in”
“I can achieve whatever I desire”
“Out of my head and into my body” This one is great when I am feeling overwhelmed and thinking too much about the run. I tell myself this and it helps my just focus on my body and enjoy the run.
“My body is on autopilot” Once I’m a few miles into my run, and on the right pace, I tell myself this as a way to take the pressure off. My body has been running this pace consistently, all I need to do is let go and let it run that pace on autopilot.
“Moment of pain for a lifetime of glory” (this one is from the book Unbroken which I talk about in my post about inspirational running books)
If you are training for your first race, that feeling of crossing the finish line and achieving your goal is going to be life changing. It gives you greater confidence in all aspects of life and gives you a new appreciation for the human body-for your body.
It will also show you the importance of the mind and that you can do anything if you set your mind to it. Mantras are great for running, and when using them during your training runs and your race, you will most likely start using them outside of running as well! When getting through something difficult, or even just something boring, have a positive mantra can make all the difference. If you want to read more about how to achieve your goals check out that post!
What’s a mantra that got you through your last tough run or race?