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Developing a Long Distance Running Mindset

Physical toughness and mental toughness are two separate traits, and you can have one without the other. You may be physically strong enough to run a marathon, but are you mentally prepared for the strain, the dehydration, the tiredness and the extensive effort required to cross the finish line?

If you want to compete in long instance running, then you should know you will be up against people who have trained both physically and mentally, and you want to be just as prepared. Here are some ways that you can get your mind in shape for the long run ahead:

Mentally Break Up Your Run

Long runs can be intimidating, and if you are not prepared for them, they can completely destroy you, both physically and mentally. One trick that some runners will use is to break up the run in their mind. They will tell themselves that they only have to run a mile at a time, and after each mile, they will tell themselves they are simply running another mile. This can take an intimidating run that is 10 miles or more and keep it simple and doable. This is one of the key ways that runners manage to overcome the daunting longer runs, and it’s a method recommended by the experts.

Visualize ahead of Time

Some runners will go visit the track they are going to be running on a few days ahead of the competition. That way, they have a clear mental picture of the track and what race day will probably be like. This way, they don’t come unprepared. They use this mental picture to help them visualize the entire race before it even happens. They may go through all of their senses and how those will react and be affected during the race, thinking of how the track may smell, what sounds they may hear and what they will taste when they prep for the race with a beverage or a snack. This prepares them to be tough enough to handle the race when it happens.  

Mix Up Workout Intensity

If you just try for tough, strenuous workouts each time, then you are going to hate your training and really hate long distance running. You ought to mix it up occasionally, and you ought to know when you are working out too much. It’s possible get addicted to working out and overexert yourself. Try doing some easy workouts every once in a while or as part of your weekly routine. Maybe you can do an easy workout one day and do tough workouts the rest of the week. This gives you something to look forward too and ensures that working out isn’t always stressful and grueling. This helps you have a better mindset when you get out on the track, because all of your training to get there hasn’t been miserable.

Keep Your Motivation in Mind

There is a reason that you first started to run or first started to transition over to long distance running. What was your motivation? If you can recall that motivation that got you there in the first place, you can use it to keep you going. There may be times where your motivation changes, though, and you need to be prepared for that. If you feel like recalling your past motivation isn’t doing enough for you, then it may be time to reconsider what your current reasons for running is. Bringing that to the forefront of your mind every time you go to run can propel you forward and keep you going, even through the tough workouts that a long distance run requires of you.

Have the Right Gear

You won’t feel very prepared for a serious run without the right equipment. Make sure you are wearing suitable clothes and are hydrating yourself and fueling your body properly before your run. You can use resources such as Jogging Addition to find the right gear and ensure that you are as prepared as possible for the race ahead.

Reward Yourself Afterwards

It’s always a good idea to give yourself something to look forward to when you are going to put yourself through some grueling paces. You can plan to have a nice meal afterwards, drink your favorite beverage or go spend some time with friends. Maybe you can plan to go relax and see a movie after a big race or a training sessions. These can be little incentives to get you through the race or the training and to keep your motivation strong all throughout, and there are all sorts of ways that you can reward yourself.


A lot of running is in the mind, and once you get over the mental hurdles and develop your mental toughness, then you will be able to achieve more, run longer and enjoy running in ways you didn’t even realize.