3 Mental Habits of Successful Runners


We’ve all heard the term “mind over matter,” but how does that apply to the running lifestyle? No doubt, this hobby of ours is physically demanding — some days, I might call it grueling. So how much does mental attitude play into becoming a successful runner? A lot.

1. It All Starts With Discipline

This may seem like a no-brainer, but discipline can be the determining factor between success and failure, progress and stagnation, and even health and injury. Discipline manifests in several ways, all of which are important for developing habits to succeed as a runner:

  • Getting out there to run, even when you don’t want to
  • Sticking to your schedule
  • Pushing through plateaus
  • Maintaining proper running form
  • Making time to stretch, warm-up, and cool-down
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Setting goals and training toward them
  • Allowing your body to REST, for crying out loud


2. What’s Your Motivation?

We all got into this running thing for our own reasons. Maybe we wanted to lose weight or compete in our first race. Heck, most of you may have been on the track or cross-country teams in high school. But once you’ve surmounted that first hurdle (pun fully intended), what keeps you going?

Refreshing your goals as your running strengths evolve will help keep you engaged and motivated. You could even split some goals — develop attainable short-term objectives while maintaining an overall long-term goal. For instance, let’s say your end goal is to run in a marathon. Keep that vision in mind, but intersperse it with smaller goals such as a 10k or half-marathon. This will provide regular doses of dopamine as you achieve “smaller” accomplishments and keep you on track (I’m on a roll) to hit your end game. Of course, is there really an end game? Once you achieve your long-term goal, it’s time to set another.


3. Take the Bad With the Good

If the scenery along your route were always flat and desolate, it wouldn’t be very interesting (or challenging). You can use this same mindset when dealing with the ups and downs of your running journey. You may fall short of a training goal, lose a race, or suffer some sort of setback or injury. But bad days happen to everyone! If you let obstacles take your head out of the game, you’ll only prolong the frustration. Take a deep breath, analyze the factors that led up to the situation, and let it go. Some factors may be within your control, such as setting realistic goals or making sure to use proper training techniques. Others, such as weather, road conditions, or illness, are out of your hands entirely. Save your sweating for the track, and don’t waste it on the “small stuff.”