Strengthening Your Mind


Last Day to Enter the PRO Compression Giveaway here!


This past weekend was my son’s Baptism. It was a perfect day –  wonderful ceremony, good food, and our family and neighbors to share the day with us.  I’m extremely sentimental and wanted my boys to wear the same christening outfit – just like my sisters and I did when we were all baptized. We had a small party at our home afterwards catered from a yummy place on Staten Island.

All dressed up for a change!

I love little boy clothes:

My mom and sisters:


This is one of my favorite mantras to say to myself during a tough run:

I have many moments of doubt and even more moments of wanting to just quit when I’m doing during tempo and speed workouts.

I question my ability to run the pace I want.
I doubt my ability to continue running at that pace.
I want the pain and uncomfortableness to end.
I make agreements with my mind (if you stop at 3 miles instead of 4, that’s still a good workout…or turn this 5k tempo into a 2 mile repeat session).

It takes every ounce of control and mental toughness to keep pushing when these training runs get tough.  It’s at these moments when the workout goes from being purely physical to physical AND mental.

Training your mind to not just be prepared for the pain of a fast pace, but to be ready enough to welcome it and then keep pushing, takes practice.  You can’t expect to be able to push hard in a race if you never give your mind (or body) the chance to practice it in training runs.

Each hard run strengthens not just my body – but my mind too.  And the more I run hard and race hard, the stronger my mind gets:

I wanted to do a 5k tempo on Sunday morning.  I hadn’t done a 5k in close to 3 months and wanted to see what sort of improvement I had made in my time.  The previous 5k was just before Christmas – I ran it in 20:50 (6:42 pace).  The one prior to that was 21:36 (6:57 pace).  My goal for this 5k was to average sub-6:30.

Mile 1: 6:35. I felt great. The mile was comfortably hard.  In control.  But I was running cautious because I knew what still was to come.

Mile 2: 6:22. Starting to get tired.  Breathing heavier.  Working hard to convince myself to stay on the treadmill.

Mile 3: 6:12. Longest mile. I began counting down the minutes. I can do anything for 5 minutes. I can do anything for 4 minutes.  Once I got to 2.5 miles, I sped up the pace to 6:03 and told myself to just hold on to the end.

Mile 3.1: 6:00 (pace)

Total: 19:45 (6:22 pace). New 5k PR…5 1/2 months postpartum.  I’ll take it.  Really makes me want to find a 5k to run and see how I do on fresh legs and in a race environment.

It wasn’t an all-out run, but it was one of the hardest tempos I’ve had to date.  And it was exactly the run I needed a week out from the NYC Half on Sunday.  I wanted to quit. I wanted to get off that darn treadmill for over 12 straight minutes.  It would have been easier to do it and just turn the workout into mile repeats or 2-mile repeats.  But I didn’t.  Each time I felt like I couldn’t go any faster, I’d hit the up arrow on the treadmill.

So come Sunday when I start feeling tired around mile 7 or 8 and I get the urge to slow down, I can recall Sunday’s run.  And hopefully instead of slowing down, I’ll be able to pick up the pace and push to the finish line. My mind knows I can run a sub-20 5k.  It knows it can average sub-6:25 for over 3 miles.  It knows it can keep pushing even when I’m out of breath and ready to stop.

Favorite race distance?

Do you have any mantras that you use? 

 Ways to Follow NYC Running Mama 
Pinterest       Instagram       Facebook

    Related posts:

    27 thoughts on “Strengthening Your Mind

    1. Pingback: Bean Bytes 29

    2. Pingback: Pain does not define me

    3. Nice job on that run. It’s nice to have something like that to remind yourself of when you’re in the middle of a race. I’m interested to see how I’m going to feel for this race this weekend. It has been a long time since I’ve raced a half. I had an awesome tempo last week for 25 minutes at 7:56, which is super fast for me, and I think it bodes well for what I’ll be able to do Sunday. Keep with it!
      meghan recently posted..Dear Friday… {spring break edition}My Profile

    4. Nice insight there, I struggle with long runs, I used to love them when i used to run with my brother but since he moved away and I needed to keep up the effort on my own I just dont have the same level of dedication and also find i get board. Anything to help pull me back into focus is worth a try.

    5. Congrats on the baptism!

      I’ve started speed workouts for the first time this training session – and I was just talking to a good friend about how I often fail mentally long before I would’ve failed physically in these workouts. I’ll have to remember your mantras and keep at it!

    6. Pingback: I'm mantra-less - Miss Zippy

    7. I needed this post today. I know that my mind is weaker than my body so I’ve been using my Believe I Am journal to try to build confidence. It’s amazing how running is so mental.

      Your family looks beautiful :)
      Shannon @ Mon Amour recently posted..Scars (Part 2)My Profile

    8. What a beautiful day. You clean up nice! :)

      I’ve been thinking about this concept for a little while – I’ve just started researching Tabata training and an article described their pros and cons, but the only con they had was that it could put you at higher risk for injury because of its intensity. I pondered how for a participant in an endurance sport, incorporating Tabatas for the quick improvement in both aerobic and anaerobic capacity would be valuable, but how nothing can substitute for an actual endurance ‘rehearsal.’ I need to practice my (running/swimming/cycling) form, AND I need to practice pushing myself through a difficult physical/mental stage of an event.

      Of course, Tabatas are pretty darn mentally strengthening on their own!

    9. I needed this post today. I was running on the treadmill and I realized that my mental toughness is fragile right now (It’s only been 9 days since my marathon) but that I am going to need to get it together soon to get through some of my tougher workouts. I also want to improve in this area so I have some ammo for the mental games I’m sure will face me in future races. Thanks for the advice! recently posted..A Yucky RunMy Profile

    10. Thank you for sharing the experience of your son’s baptism. What a special day!

      Also, thanks for sharing your tips for getting through the tough runs. YOu are an inspiration and super speedy. Good luck in your half this weekend!!!

    11. “You can’t expect to be able to push hard in a race if you never give your mind (or body) the chance to practice it in training runs.” This line right here Michelle, is going to stick with me. Your words in this post, along with many others you have written stay with me, it’s as if your voice is my head, coaching me through the pain. Thank you!
      Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..A Healthier Strawberry MilkMy Profile

    12. Congrats on your PR speedy lady!! It’s so true about our minds standing in our way. Those mental negotiations are the worst!! I’ve been noticing that a lot lately and trying to consciously think positively and not to give into those thoughts and I think that it’s made a huge difference in a lot of areas of my life. You are going to do great this weekend!!

      BTW Love those pictures from the Baptism. How cute are little boys in ties??
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Inversion Aversion – Part 2My Profile

    13. I felt a LOT like this last night! I actually did the same thing – hit the UP arrow on the TM when it started hurting and told myself it’s *only* 4 more minutes! Even though the run wasn’t my best, I still managed to win my mental battle. Definitely a mind in training. You look so pretty and wow what a gorgeous family of ladies!
      beka @ rebecca roams recently posted..Weekly Workouts Roundup + Core WorkMy Profile

    14. Ahh…thank you for posting this at the perfect time for me! With my marathon on Saturday, the self doubts are starting to settle in. I need to remember all the hard work I have put in and know that I can do this.

      You rocked that 5k–should bring about great results this weekend for you!

      Love all the christening pics–AJ in his little man attire is adorable!
      misszippy1 recently posted..Running pace vs. running effortMy Profile

    15. Wow, Michele- awesome 5k!!! My goal for this spring is sub-20… not sure if I’m there yet, but I’m gonna try at a few races in March and April. Yes- what a perfect confidence booster going into your half! You’ve got the mental toughness, that’s for sure. :) Love those quotes you shared, too! And congrats on the baptism- you have one beautiful family!
      Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Bayou Classic 10k RecapMy Profile