30 Day Challenge: Countdown to a Half Marathon

Race week is finally here! The OC Half Marathon is just two days away and I’m in tapering mode, allowing my body to take a little break from the daily grind. They say when it comes to running, mental toughness and preparation can be just as important as your physical training. “Mind over matter,” right? Whether you’re taking a test, going into an interview, or gearing up for competition, here are five mental strategies for success.

Mental Strategies for Running


Visualization is a very powerful tool of self-suggestion that can serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leading up to the big day, visualize yourself performing successfully, accomplishing your goals and crossing that finish line. Imagine it as if you are in that moment and what you would see, smell, feel, etc. This will help boost your confidence and give your mind a better sense of what is likely to happen in the event.


There is a lot of scientific evidence to support the effects of positive and negative thoughts, so never underestimate the power of self-talk. If you find yourself saying things like, “I can’t do this,” or “I’m too tired,” you are essentially telling your body that you doubt its ability and it will react accordingly. Stick to positive affirmations to bring positive results. Try something like, “I feel great,” or “I have tons of energy,” and see how your body responds.


Prior to competition and during, what you focus on is critical when it comes to conquering your mental game. Direct your focus to the task at hand instead of worrying about possible set backs or the outcome. Sports psychologists suggest that if you have a side ache or cramp for example to think specifically about what is bothering you rather than ignoring it, which can make things worse. This is where positive self-talk can come in handy by asking the pain to go away.

Mental Strategies for Running

Relax the Mind

To be successful in competition, it is important to not only relax your body for optimum performance, but your mind as well. By releasing tension and anxiety, you are able to get in the zone while using the most efficient amount of oxygen. To keep your mind relaxed, use deep and focused breathing and quiet any negative criticisms you may have. Our bodies are very obedient, so telling it to relax or calm down can be very beneficial.

Anticipate Distractions

There will always be things that arise during competition that were not part of your game plan, but anticipating these distractions beforehand can be very powerful. If you have already identified a potential issue that may arise, you will know how to handle it gracefully, allowing for energy to be spent elsewhere. Before your big day, make a list of unexpected events that could possibly occur and how you will take care of them in the moment.


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