For runners, feeling like we want to stop is very common for any type of runners, athletes, endurance, strong, slow runners or beginners and during any type of runs, a race, a long run, or trying to push through a tough speed workout, it can sometimes feel like it’s a struggle to keep running. Our body may feel strong, but our brain is telling us to stop.
If we feel some pain, soreness or injury, then we should focus on the intensity to determine whether it’s safe to keep running. But if we’re not dealing with a run-ending injury, there are some effective ways to stay positive, and reactivate our mental shut down and keep running once we feel like we want to stop.
1. Use a Mantra
If we let negative thoughts, such as “I want to stop” or “I’m not going to finish this race” affect us, our brain will shut down our body. We have to remind ourself that we have to stay positive. If we keep mentioning to ourselves some nice positive thoughts such as “I feel good,” “I am strong,” or “Keep running and enjoy”. We will quickly start to feel it and believe it.
2. Track Your Progress
Whether we follow a training schedule, keep a running log in a notebook or use a fitness-tracking app such as Strava or Garmin, keeping track of our running progress can help keep us motivated to finish those tough runs. Knowing that we want to log our distance or check off our workout on our calendar can inspire us to push through the end of our run to reach our goal, when we feel like stopping.
3. Look Around
A good way to distract ourself from how we’re feeling internally is to shift the focus to what’s happening around us. We should look at the scenery we have access to, buildings, people, animals, beautiful flowers, and nature all around us, this will keep us positive. If we run the same route most of the time, we should switch to a new route, to have something new and interesting to observe.
4. Focus on a Target
This very simple and highly effective mind game is a favourite for many runners. Just choose a target in the distance, whether it’s a street sign, a road junction, a park, a nice scenery area, or a km marker in a race, we can focus on reaching it. Once we approach it, we shouldn’t stop, and pick a new target. Before we know it, we will have completed our run or reached our finish line.
5. Take in Some Calories
If we’re halfway in a long run and we start feeling weak and sluggish, this could be a sign that we might need to eat or drink something to refuel, consuming gels, electrolytes, sports drinks etc. Our brain, like our muscles, requires carbs to function. If our brain is telling us to stop, it may just need some more fuel. Consuming some carbs, whether it’s a sports drink, energy gel, or other carbs our body likes while running, will avoid our brain to tell us to stop.
6. Play Mind Games
Distracting ourself with mind games and mental tricks can help us keep running through tough stages, as well as improve our confidence, help us stay focused, and even boost our performance. When we’re racing, one game we should play is “Go & Catch Him”. We can use front runners to really keep pushing us, reminding ourselves keep up, don’t lose this runner. If we pass the runner, let’s catch another one.
7. Check Your Form
Practicing mindfulness, or staying in the present, can help us focus on our mind and push past negative thoughts and the desire to stop. We can be mindful by paying attention to our running form and movements.
We should do a total body check, starting with our head. We need to keep looking up and ahead, not down at our feet. Our shoulders should be back and relaxed, not hunched over. We need to make sure we’re running tall and engaging our core. Not to hold any tension in our arms, wrists, and hands. Drop our arms to our sides for a few seconds and shake out our hands. And check that our feet are landing under our hips, so we’re not overstriding.
8. We Should Smile Even if We Have to Force It
We will feel more energized when we’re smiling. Even to fake smile will contribute to some nice instant positive energy. Just pretending that we’re feeling good can actually make us feel better. Smiling can be really effective during a race, we should plan to smile every time we pass some runners or supporters, our brain will activate our body instantly.
9. Think About Your Post-Run Reward
To dig deeper and push past those negative thoughts, it helps to think about what we will do after our run or race. We can look forward to a nice post-run treat, whether it be a cup of coffee, a meal, or a massage, and how much we will enjoy it, and appreciate performing a nice run.
Stay Positive, Smile, Remind Your Body and Brain to Keep Going, Enjoy and Finish a Great Run!