April 21, 2020 – Runners’ Mental Tricks

Hi Everyone!


Hope you’re all doing well. First up a shout-out to those who had trained for Boston which would have been yesterday. It must have been hard to see the day come and go, but must have also felt good to be a part of a unique community making a sacrifice for the greater good. Also, we’re almost ready to start working towards early fall marathon goals, and if I know runners, one thing we’re good at is dusting ourselves off and heading after a new goal! Also shout out and congrats to Andrew McKay who ran 50km on Monday as part of his 100 mile week challenge – Go Andrew!


I’ve been thinking about how we as runners are actually quite mentally well-prepared for what we’re going through because of all the training we’ve done. Here are some things I feel we’re uniquely good at because we’re runners:


  • The ability to work and make sacrifices now for longterm goals months down the road. We’re used to doing a lot of schedule juggling, sleep-in sacrifices and hard efforts in uncomfortable conditions for goals that are months away. We’re ok with putting our heads down and working towards something even though we don’t see daily or even weekly results. We can keep getting up for something that is months away. I would say that is a superpower right now.


  •  The ability to deal with disappointments and setbacks when we don’t achieve the goals which we’d made those sacrifices and worked hard for. If you’ve trained for and raced two or more races in your life, I can guarantee you’ve had to face not achieving a goal. I know we’ve all been working towards various goals, professional, educational, athletic, whatever, and many of them have been put on hold, or we’ve slid backwards. But I know that as athletes this is not the first time we’ve experienced this, and we know we’ll bounce back.


  • Being able to put one foot in front of the other and have faith that we’ll lock into a rhythm that will get us were we’re trying to go – even when we can’t see the finish line. How many times have you set out on a long run or workout or race and thought “I can’t even imagine getting to where I want – it’s so far away”. But we’ve learned how to not let ourselves get overwhelmed, to run the mile we’re in and know that the little pieces will eventually get us there. This is one thing to read about and understand, but an entirely different lesson when you actually live and experience it. We KNOW we can do this because we’ve done it before.


  • The skill of talking to ourselves positively during rough patches, even when we’re not sure we believe the positivity. You know those cheesy mantras we say to ourselves when things get rough in a race? Like “you’re so strong”, “you can totally do this” – because we’re told they work (and I really think they do)? Am I the only one who says them to myself during other times, not just races now?  We’ve learned how to drown out our inner voices of doubt and negativity and that is a skill we can lean on now as well. Force it until it becomes true.


  • The ability to find joy and pleasure in hard things. I mean, this is what we DO. Not that we seek out every hard thing we have to deal with, but we are able to avoid self-pity and to dig in and find humour and even enjoyment in the struggle (I truly believe that anyone who survived Boston 2018 came away with a deep understanding of this – but really any long, hard workout or race will teach this). Things are more challenging now than usual, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh and seek out joy. We’re good at that.


So there – another reason to be grateful we’re runners and learning lessons we never set out to learn but which are serving us well in these uncertain times.


Workout options for this week:


  1. 2×6 min with 2 rest; 4 min rest; 3-4 x 3 min w 1:30 rest plus 4-5 strides
  2.  Just strides – 8-10 x 100m w full recovery – 2-3K w-up and c-dn. This is so you actually do your strides, in case you’re like me and leave them as an afterthought and then never do them.
  3. Tempo: 15-18min tempo
  4. Short Riverdale hills w push-ups at the bottom and squats at the top (unfortunately, from experience these never seem to get easier, but a great butt/strength/power workout!)


That’s all for now – see you out there!