4 Mental Tricks That’ll Push You Through A Long And Gruelling Run

And how to know when to stop.


Yamkela Mdaka |

Reaching the end of a long run and seeing that you outdid your last pace and set a new PB feels like glory. It’s everything that warrants an InstaStory to let the world know of the day’s great feat. 

But do we ever talk about the gruelling moments in the run? That moment when you’ve only hit 600m, but you already know it’s going to be a difficult one? Or that moment when you’re 2km from completing your goal, but it feels evil to continue? 

For many of us, those moments can be too excruciating and end not only that one run but the motivation to try again tomorrow. But what if you could fight through those moments and come out even more victorious at your finish line? At the end of the day, your ability to push past the pain is an integral part of your running life. 

Here we’ll go through some of the most effective strategies to help you do just that. 

Believe in your pain threshold 

If you believe that you can push past the bouts of muscle pain throughout your run, then you’re already one step ahead. This is according to a study done by researchers at the University of Illinois. The study found that athletes who believed they could push through leg-muscle pain did better than those that did not.

Have a mantra 

Numerous studies have found that repeating mantras can relieve stress and do wonders for calming the mind. One study concluded that silently repeating one word to yourself brings you peace of mind. This type of positive affirmation is important for any run – particularly a painful one. Repeating the mantra is also a good way to keep yourself distracted, so that your focus is not only on the muscle pain. 

READ MORE: “I Started Running As An Emotional Release To Just Clear My Mind”

Create a power playlist 

We all know that listening to music while exercising changes everything! But not every song on your Spotify might work well for your routine, so shuffling isn’t the answer. It’s important to take the time and curate a playlist of your power songs. These are the songs that you know always keep you going. It’s also important to try identify one particular power song that can get you through the extremely tough moments. 

A 2017 study looked at the effect of music tempo on exercise performance among young adults and found that there was an increase in total duration of exercise and heart rate when fast and loud music was played. 

“Motivation by music can lead to an increase in exercise duration, which is a stress alleviator in young people,” the study says. 

“Nevertheless, the importance and beneficial effect of music on health cannot be underestimated.” 

The pain is not forever (if it’s not an injury)

One thing that can help you get through a tough moment in a run is realising that that’s all it is: a tough moment. It’s not going to hurt forever. It will come and go and each step forward you’re taking is bringing you closer to the finish line. 

Not every difficult moment is an opportunity to fight through – sometimes you have to stop or you could run the risk of getting a serious injury. Here are quick signs that you should never ignore, according to Active

  • Chest pain 
  • Limping 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Sharp and sudden pain 

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