Psychology of Running

05.01.2016 |

Episode #10 of the course “Ultimate Guide to Running” by Matthew Henshall


In running, there are many highs and lows. Some of the fastest runners in the world are the ones who enjoy it the least, and some of the slowest runners likely enjoy it the most. This is the beauty of running, no matter your speed—even the last runner across the line might have achieved something that the first did not.


What to do when you want to give up

So you want to quit running? Can you relate to feelings like these?

• I am not improving.

• I am not getting faster.

• I am getting hurt.

• I am just not enjoying it.

• It is boring.

• I am all alone.

You are not alone! Everyone who has made running a habit has gone through these emotional rollercoasters. So how can you keep out of the blues?

1. Stop comparing yourself to others.

2. Challenge yourself to run in a busy area—maybe through the city during lunch.

3. Run with a friend.

4. Try something new, like running somewhere new with someone new or a group!

5. Get into a schedule; force yourself to run from the office to avoid traffic.

6. Get rid of the watch.

7. Stop racing or doing time trials. Take a break from high-intensity or interval training.

Again, rest is good. Most important is the fact that you are the only one in control of keeping yourself happy. Be realistic about your need for a healthy lifestyle and make sure you enjoy it!


What to do when you give up during a race

Anyone who has pushed themselves in a race has undoubtedly experienced a time when they didn’t think they would finish—when they had given up.

It is an empowering notion to go into a race knowing there will come a time when you feel miserable and knowing that when this happens, you have a strategy to get out of it.

Here are some strategies:

1. Don’t speed up. Watch how often this happens, and next time you are hitting a wall, watch what you try to do. You try to speed up, try to push even harder past it. Stay exactly how you are. Get comfortable.

2. You might have to run like this for 2 minutes or 20 minutes, but there will come a time when, all of a sudden, you feel like you can pick up the pace again.

3. So you have slowed down, and now you need to ASSESS. Focus on getting your breathing under control, then your form, then listen to your muscles. Have you injured yourself? This is an important one to check. Have you eaten? Have you kept hydrated?

4. Another great thing about self-assessment is that it allows you to think very short-term. Often in a race we get psyched out because of how far we are thinking ahead (“I can’t believe we’re not even halfway”), so looking at yourself can take your mind off that.

5. Ultimately, once you are starting to see the light again, say to yourself, “Well done! You are dominating!”


This course was created by Matthew Henshall

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Recommended book

“Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind” by Sakyong Mipham


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