The Inspired Runner: Overcoming mental hurdles.

All dressed up. No will to go.

Runners run. Even when they don’t feel like it. The excuses are numerous and appealing: the weather is bad; your regular route has become a rut; time is limited, life is busy. Running is hard for beginners and pros. There are days when the challenge is discouraging rather than motivating.

It’s all in your mind
Mental training is as important as physical training. My legs may carry me on the road, but it’s my brain that gets me to the road in the first place. What motivates each runner to begin the journey is completely individual. Hours on the road allow you to discover what works for you — and what works will evolve along with your running.

For instance, I hated the first mile I ever attempted because I could not finish it. My legs grew leaden with fatigue, I was out of breath, and I was gripped by the mother of all side stitches. I vowed never to try again, but someone watching me laughed and said I’d never be able to finish a mile. That was 20 years, seven marathons, and more than 50,000 miles ago. My determination to prove that prediction wrong fueled me for weeks. As I became a stronger runner, the anticipation of reaching new mileage goals moved me.

Listen to the voices in your head
Over the course of two decades, however, the newness is lost. There are days when the snooze alarm or after-work nachos and beer seem better than running. Luckily, my runner’s mind is as strong as my legs, and I’ve learned ways to get out the door and on the road.

There’s the drill sargeant approach. This is the have-no-mercy inner voice that barks, yeah, sometimes running stinks, but get your a** out there. NOW!

The inner inspirational guide reminds me to visualize past goals achieved, envision future successes, and believe that I have no limits.

Then there’s the prodder who bribes me with the promise of a latte or an uninterrupted half hour with the newspaper if I complete my run.

Remember: Inspiration is as individual as you are. There is no one-size-fits-all formula, but I promise your inspiration is out there on the road waiting for you to find it.

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