4 ways to stop negative thinking on runs

The difference between a good run and a really bad one begins in your brain. If you believe a workout will be tough or if you focus on feelings of boredom or fatigue, your body will follow your mind, making it more difficult to have an enjoyable outing. The good news is this mechanism works in reverse, too. If you can catch yourself in the act of negative thinking, it’s possible to turn your mind – and your run – around. Here’s how to respond to common downers:

1/ ‘I can’t believe how far I still have to run'

Focus on only the next walk break or the next run segment, or on reaching the runner ahead of you, or the next tree. Think only about one small portion of the run you know you can complete, and once you’ve done that, shift your attention to the next. Before you know it you’ll have finished your run.

2/ ‘I’m so tired’

Try repeating a positive statement, such as ‘I can do it’ or ‘I feel better.’ Imagine how proud you will be when you finish your run. Plus you’ll have a positive memory of perseverance to draw upon the next time you’re feeling tired midrun.

3/ ‘I’m too slow’

Give yourself a pep talk with added humour; e.g. vow to set a record for the slowest time. Remember that you’re still beating the people sitting on their sofas. And if you want to be faster, experiment with shorter run and walk segments – some runners find 15 secs on, 15 secs off is an ideal balance.

4/ ‘I can’t believe he/she overtook me’

If you’re out for an everyday run, remind yourself to focus on your own workout. Other runners may be doing speedwork, for example, so they should be passing you. In a race, use those runners as inspiration – feed off their energy and pick up the pace a bit.