Stop the negative self-talk and you will run faster

Stop the negative self-talk and you will run faster.  If you go into a workout or race while telling yourself it’s going to go poorly, the chances of it going well are slim.  Now, I’m not saying that if you just flip this and have flowery self-talk that you will run faster.  But there are so many runners that get intimidated by a workout and are anxious about it before it even starts.  “I don’t think I can do this.”  “I can’t believe my coach said I could run this workout because I know I can’t.”  Stop it.  If you have a coach, then you have someone who wants to see you succeed and therefore isn’t assigning anything you can’t do.  That doesn’t mean that they won’t give you an assignment where you’ll have to run your best workout to date, but that’s what the journey of training is about – transcending a former self.  So going into hard workouts, stop the negative self talk.

The most difficult place to stop the negative self talk is in a race when you’re starting to hurt, especially when you’re starting to hurt but you’re on pace to run a PR.  It’s so easy to panic at this point and tell yourself that you won’t be able to maintain pace.  And you definitely don’t have the confidence that you can accelerate in the final 400m of the race.  Stop it.  You don’t know what you can do, and if your training has been solid leading up to this race, then you owe it to yourself at this critical juncture to stay positive and deal with the discomfort.  The discomfort will be gone when the race is over, but if you can run a personal record you’ll be glowing for days.

Negative self-talk has never helped a runner.  Berating yourself never helps.  If you can find a way to silence the critic in your mind then you have a much better shot at running well.


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  • Guest

    So true! I’ll be showing this to my daughter. :D Being strong mentally can never be over estimated in running and racing. :)

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  • Anonymous

    “What I can say, is when you’re running you find that despite the fact that you are feeling pain, you find that if you try to show the physical appearance of happiness you find this generation of energy inside your body. So, even if you are feeling a lot of pain, try to feel happy.” – Wilson Kipsang, after setting the course record in the 2014 London Marathon

  • Brendan Dunn

    I believe in visualising the pain and the discomfort pre race and thinking about how it will hurt, how I will feel, what my senses will be experiencing. Then I think about pushing through it, going forward and feeling strong. I applied this to two races I ran last year.

    The first was a half marathon where the final two kilometres is a steep uphill. For weeks leading up to the event I focused on my laboured breathing, the burning in my legs, the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach and I imagined myself pushing through all of the discomfort and getting up the hill as quickly as I could. No splits, no specifics. Come race day, when I got to the hill, it was almost as if I had run it 100 times before. I had no fear and it was almost as if the pain and discomfort were old friends. I sailed up the hill.

    The Second race was a very hilly 32km (20 miler) called the Tough One. There is a stretch from the 18 kilometre mark of the race which is 5kms (3miles) of climbing. Around every corner is a hill, which is harder than the last. I worked through it in my mind every day and felt the pain and discomfort, but saw myself moving forward and doing the very best I could. Come race day I was prepared for the toughest section of the race and cruised through it.

    The power of the human mind and self belief has no bounds. Feel the pain, embrace the discomfort and see yourself pushing through it.

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  • Anonymous

    A couple of years ago in a street mile I thought I was at my absolute limit when I spotted a couple from my hometown. I sped up, smiled, waved & yelled out their names. After that, I practically laughed myself to the finish line. I don’t really think it’s pain. Getting a nail through my foot really hurts. The stuff we are dealing with when we are running hard is not pain. It is something else. Maybe we would all deal with it better if we didn’t call it pain in the first place.

  • CoachJay

    Such a wonderful contribution to this post and to the site. Thank you so much Eric.

  • CoachJay

    Kenny Moore wouldn’t call it “pain” in the Bowerman book. So yes, maybe pain is the wrong word.