Six Ways to Trick Yourself During a Tough Run

Sometimes, you just have tough runs and it gets hard to make it through to the end. For me, this happens a lot during training and having a tough run during training makes it harder. Mentally, it sucks when something I've done over and over that should be easy (like a three mile run) turns into a slog and makes me doubt how I could do a longer distance. So today I wanted to share six ways I try to trick myself when I start to feel like  a run is going to suck.

  1. Mix up what you listen to

    Sometimes, switching what I'm listening to can quickly change my thoughts during a run. As you know, I've been on an audiobook kick since I started my 2017 training season back in January. But sometimes, listening to a book just isn't doing it for me and I need something else. So I'll switch to a podcast (which I did several posts on my favorite running, health and other podcasts) if I'm feeling like I want something more conversational or music if I need something completely different.

  2. Race someone

    I run in areas that have a lot of other  traffic on the paths and occasionally I'll pretend that I'm in a race and pick people to pass. Personally, I get in a completely different mindset during a race and part of that is my competitiveness. On a run, it helps to pick out someone ahead of me to pass (even if it's someone walking) and I feel encouraged when I finally pass them.

  3. Break up the run

    One of the biggest "tricks" I play on myself while running is breaking down my run. It seems so much easier when I look at how far I've gone and think "there's only X more quarter miles to go" or "if you get to that tree you'll be over halfway done". This is a big trick I use on the treadmill when it shows how long I've been running. It takes my mind off the run for a couple of seconds to figure how long I have left and figure out how many 5 minute intervals are left.


  4. Run someplace new When I did my long run last weekend at Lake Calhoun, it made it a lot easier to not pay attention to how many miles I had since I was looking at everything around me. I've been running the same routes for the last three years so being someplace new (or where I haven't run in a while) is really refreshing because I'm concentrating on what's around me versus how I'm feeling. Even running my usual routes backwards can sometimes do this just because I'm running on the opposite side of the path.
  5. Have a reward waiting at home

    Right now, my reward for finishing a run is getting into the air conditioning and through my legs up the wall. There's something so refreshing about laying down in the cool air and letting my blood flow in a different direction (even if it also means I get licked down by Vinnie). Knowing that I'm going to do that soon makes it easier to push through the point on my run where I feel like I'm riding the struggle bus. For my long run on Sunday this week, my reward right after the run is going to be wading in Lake Calhoun to cool down.

  6. Bring someone along All my runs so far have been solo (well, there are other people around me but I'm not running "with" them). And while it's nice to have some solo Jenny time, it's also can help when there's someone else with me. I'm super excited that Mike is going to biking along with me on my weekend runs (and also biking along the Twin Cities Marathon to encourage me). This Saturday will be our first run/bike training session and I've been looking forward to it all week!


What gets you through a tough run?