Disappointment, stress, and fear are feelings that can affect our enjoyment as runners. Some races or workouts may present a mental barrier that is harder to overcome than a physical one, leading you to struggle with even getting your laces tied to run. If you have ever faced this kind of challenge, read on to learn how you can overcome these mental hindrances to your success on the pavement (or trail).

Comparing Yourself to Others

It is sometimes difficult to not compare ourselves to runners we think are better and/or faster. Although having other runners around to compare yourself to can be motivating, enabling you to set realistic goals, there will almost always be someone faster than you. The trap of comparison occurs when one takes this too far, potentially hitting a wall of disappointment head-on. Not all runners are created equally, meaning we do not all have the same genes or resources, time or training. If you find yourself making self-defeating comparisons on a regular basis between your pace and those of runners who are faster, stop – right away. Are you putting in all you can? If you are, find encouragement in the fact that you are putting great effort into your workouts and that you have likely improved greatly in comparison to your pace before. Motivate yourself by your own times!

Fear of Failure

Although fear can be a driving factor, it can also do just the opposite. Many runners end up overwhelmed, giving into fear, which may result in anxiety, a lack of confidence and a running experience that is less than our best. When fear begins to creep up on you, acknowledge it first and then begin to take steps to positively change your thoughts. Set realistic goals, taking small steps in achieving them. Practice relaxation techniques. Develop positive affirmations toward yourself. Be willing to risk failure in order to succeed. If you don’t get up and try again, you will not ever make it. Be the best you can be when you make a commitment to reach a goal or win a race and keep your expectations in balance. Celebrate by looking up at what you have achieved instead of down at what you have failed to accomplish in your eyes.

Constantly Trying to Beat Your Record

Setting and beating your own personal record is a great delight when it comes to running. But some runners get caught in a cycle of constantly trying to beat their own personal record. This can lead to disappointment and burnout in some. Instead, enjoy your runs regardless of whether you are beating records or not. That is not to say you should not strive to succeed and achieve growth. Just simply change your outlook and look for other rewards as well – not just gaining the fastest time.