Talk to me during a training cycle for a race and I doubt myself A LOT. It is not something I am proud of, but being more cognizant about it and trying to turn those thoughts around has helped me a ton. I doubt I can run at a certain pace, I doubt I can finish a tough tempo workout, I doubt I can get through a long run, I doubt, I doubt, I doubt. But, working on my confidence has helped me to gain mental strength in running. Running is mostly physical, but it is also extremely mental. Your legs can only do so much while running before your brain has to kick in to help you in a run. Over the past few years... errr... more like- months of running, I have had to improve my running mental game if I wanted to improve my overall running.
At this point I have run 7? half-marathons. It is not a ton, but it is enough to know where I struggle and what I can do to get myself to the finish line. Through experience I have learned how my body handles certain speeds, certain distances, etc. and what I can do to get through discomfort.
Long runs have been huge for me in improving my running mental game because that’s usually where I struggle. Running a longer distance once a week has helped not only my body get used to running longer distances again, but it has helped my mind a lot. I can train my brain to push past boredom or any negative quity thoughts. I remember last year when I was regularly knocking out 10++ milers almost every weekend and my mental game to push past any barriers was at its height. I began to get to the point when 10 miles did not seem like anything crazy, other than just a Saturday morning run around the ole neighborhood… until I talked to a friend about it and they called me crazy. ;)
CELEBRATE THE SMALL THINGS- Instead of always just thinking about the end goal of a particular race, celebrating the small things has helped me to keep going in my training and not give up. Even if it is just the fact that I woke up and ran on a particularly tough day is a reason to celebrate. It is telling myself that I did it. I pushed through a tough run, I made it to the track on a rainy day, or whatever. Celebrating the small things keeps me going day after day, and makes the end goals a cause for an even bigger celebration.
I have run half-marathons faster than I thought I would when I started this whole running thing and that has given me the confidence to know that I can get through a tough workout, I can get through a long run, I can run a half marathon at a certain pace.
It is not going to be easy, but I CAN DO IT.