Running and the mind games we play with ourselves

Being positive doesn’t mean ignoring the negative….  being positive means overcoming the negative

Ask any runner and then will tell you, some runs are better than others.  Some days you feel like you can keep going all day, when other days, just getting a mile in is a chore.  2 Miles one day feels like 50, while some days, that 10 mile run flies by, in what seems like minutes.

We are adrenaline junkies, motivated by pushing ourself to be better than we were yesterday, to challenge ourselves to do things that others view as impossible. We will also tell you that the “bad” runs help us to appreciate the good ones.  The struggles can help us see where we need to make adjustments in training and possibly nutrition.  They can also keep us grounded.  If every run was perfect, we would potentially stop pushing ourself.  It would get to easy and the challenge that we all are motivated by is gone.

I previously did a post about what goes on inside the head of a runner  and now it’s time for part 2.

As an endurance runner living in WI, you have to learn to run in the elements.  If you waited, and only ran outside when the weather was perfect (whatever perfect is for you), you would have about 2 weeks worth of days when you could find your way outside.  

It was one of those days that the sun was out and it LOOKED like the perfect day for a run.  But anyone who lives in Wisconsin will tell you, looks can (and are often) deceiving.  But in reality, there really is no bad weather to run in, just the wrong gear.  So, we learn what works for us!   But clothing options is really a whole different post!

Today we are focusing on the mentality of the runner and how different things can affect it!

Most of us have been there… you head out for a run (or whatever you have chosen as your desired activity) and you are just not with it mentally.  That is when the mind games come into play.  Now you could let the negative thoughts overtake your mind…  It’s too cold… it’s too slippery… I don’t want to be here… this is hard… I’ll never make it (x) miles…  I’ll never be able to run as fast as… I’ll never be able to run that far… Whatever the thought, it can really break a good run.

The trick sometimes is to change that negative thought into something positive.  Something to help get your through.  Lately, I have realized how many times I am playing these mind games when I run.

Running Conditions


Today was one of those days.  It was already afternoon, it ws cold,  I had to be at work in a few hours and I still needed to get in my run. It was “only” 3 miles.  Honestly, I wanted to take that hour and grab a quick nap.  But was that going to get me closer to my goals?  No.  I sucked it up.  I threw on my trusty Toasty Tights and then added my High Five skirt for the added layer of warmth (yes I may be crazy, but even us crazies will make sure we dress for the elements when it’s a beautiful, sunny 26 degrees outside).  The sun was shining so I was going!

Shortly after I left the house, I realized that there was a “nice, crisp” breeze that almost made me turn around and go home.  I also realized that I didn’t plan ahead fuel-wise and was already wishing I had one of my Honey Stinger Waffles in my pocket.  Thankfully I had mixed up some Tailwind for my waterbottle, so I had at least some nutrition. I was chilly and hungry but I kept moving.  It was “only” 3 miles.

Running Intervals

This has been one of my go to training methods lately.  As I am working to build some endurance, the short walk breaks have really been helping me to get more miles under my feet!  I have also noticed that when I am using a walk/run interval, I pay more attention to the intervals than the distance traveled!  Today, the only time I looked at my watch was to occasionally make sure I was on the right interval (sometimes I miss the vibration and miss my cue to walk or run!).  Each time my watch alerted me to say a hit another mile, I was surprised at how quickly the minutes and miles were going.  Before I knew it, I was at the bottom of “the Beast”.  It was time to turn around and head for home.

I was still moving, I was still cold, I was still hungry, but I was getting it done.

Did I mention I was hungry?  Guess I better keep moving. Mini Goals

No, not mini goats.  Mini goals.  Sometimes, even running the intervals gets tough.  Those are the times that I find myself giving myself mini goals during my run.  The most common one is picking a point ahead of me and trying to push myself to run beyond that point before my next walk interval.  Sometimes it’s a driveway or a mailbox, sometimes a tree or a utility pole.  At one time today, it was a garbage can!  Whatever it takes, mini goals can help you see all of the accomplishments along the way!

Yes,  have often made my goal to just get home… that’s where it’s warm and there is (usually) food!  Sometimes, you do what it takes!

Remember why you started!

Each of us has a “Why”.  That thing inside us that got you started and keeps us going.  Every once in a while, it’s good to stop and think about it.  Consciously think about the positive things in your life!  Yes sometimes it is hard to see the positive when conditions arn’t perfect, but make an effort to train yourself to flip the negative thoughts to positive ones!

For me, some days it’s a simple as reminding myself that I am healthy enough to get out and run, have some beautiful places to run and have already overcome so many obstacles!  Yes, the roads may be snow-covered, but I also have quiet roads to run on, without having to worry about busy highway traffic.  It may be cold, but I can put on a few extra layers and keep myself warm. (I still don’t know how some of my runner friends can survive running in the extremely warm temps that they have… you guys are my heroes!!!).

Yes, running in cold weather is tough.  Some days even the best, most dedicated runners don’t want to go out it in. Some days, mentally we just don’t want to do it. But in the end, these mentally tough runs can help up become stronger runners.

I am looking forward to spring when I can get out and run the hills of Kentucky with the girls (hence why running “the beast” is becoming a weekly occurence) and then exploring St Louis on my feet for my spring races. I also am looking forward to running with my new Skirt Sport Ambassador sisters that live in the area.  I welcome the days when I can get back out in a tank top and running skirt or capri’s.  But until that day, we take each day and each run and make it our best!

Oh yes, and I did get those miles in, made it home without freezing and then found food!

What are some of your mind games that you play when you are out running?  What have your done to flip the negative thoughts to positive ones?


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