How to win the war in your mind | Mental Grit for Runners

by Guest blogger - Jessica Payne - runpinkjess

From 4:24 to 3:14 marathoner (that’s a 70-minute improvement including birthing two more humans in between this time!) here are my top four tips for developing mental grit to win the war in your mind as an athlete.

These tips come from years of professional therapy, self-study, running, falling, and getting back up. I had to learn how to overcome childhood PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression, and some PPD (severe post-partum depression)*.

Re-wiring your brain from a victim mentality to one of mental grit for a victory mentality isn’t easy by any stretch but it is possible with hard work and commitment to your health. Here are some tips to help you get started.

#1 Foster a growth mindset
Always be willing to learn form failures, mistakes and mishaps. Shift the way you talk to yourself during stress. For example:
“I didn’t hit my goal pace during my workout today. I know I also didn’t sleep very well last night. I’m grateful to my body for putting in the effort it could today. I’m going to mediate before bed and focus on recovery tonight.”

This type of self-talk will help you recover more quickly and reduce tension in your body vs saying “I didn’t hit my goal paces, gee I’m so slow. I must be out of shape. I’m too weak.”
In both of those cases your body still put in the same effort but one self-talk session will help you grow and one will keep you feeling stuck.

#2 Feel the emotion then move
Have you ever tried to ignore a craving for something you really wanted? Like ice cream? What typically happens? The craving intensifies. The same with our emotions. The tricky part with emotions however is they can explode without warning. If you stuff down fear of abandonment it can creep up as rage or if you ignore fear of failure it can sneak up as an anxiety attack.

It is imperative to acknowledge your feelings. And feeling negative emotions does not make you bad or weak. We all have deep emotions. The key here is to say a little hello to them then work through them. Following this up with movement, especially outdoors if at all possible is cathartic. This allows you to shift from viewing yourself from a judgmental space to a space full of grace and love.

#3 Run with gratitude
We all celebrate when life is rolling along smoothly just as we planned. But, what happens when life gets turned upside down? Where does your mind immediately go? Despair? Hopelessness? Anger? What if you could learn to train your brain to seek out the benefit in every situation? This may require some hard work for a while but like with physical training when a muscle grows after training so will your mind. This is where true mental grit for runners is developed.

#4 Ask for help
This is probably the hardest but most critical part of healing. Asking for help. No (wo)man is an island. We were designed for fellowship and friendship. The most humbling call I’ve ever made was to our local center for women when I knew I could no longer go on living with the messy war in my mind.

This post is meant to serve as general, public information. The information provided is not meant to treat, cure, or prevent any illness. As a personal trainer I’m not certified or legally allowed to provide mental health counseling. The tips provided are meant solely as general mental grit tips. Please seek your primary doctor or other trusted healthcare professional.