1. Remember your purpose
During a warmup, remind yourself of the purpose of both the individual workout and the larger picture. Is there a goal for which you are training? Is there a meaningful purpose behind why you run? It is much easier to tolerate discomfort when you know that doing so is tied to a meaningful purpose or long-term goal. Once you understand the why, it's easier to navigate the how.
2. Find a way, not an excuse
It’s easy to talk yourself out of upcoming hard workouts before even starting them. You are too tired. You are sore. It might rain. It is too hot/cold/windy. The first step in overcoming this pitfall is to recognize when it is happening, and instead of quitting, reassure yourself that you will be fine. Just focus on giving your best effort on that day, and avoid putting excessive pressure on yourself about things that are out of your control.
3. Employ positive self-talk
Use the power of self-talk to engage willingness and optimism throughout the run. When the going gets tough, repeat positive statements in your mind to help you push through. “I am” and “you are” statements are both great ways to start. For example, you can use phrases like “I am capable of this effort,” “I am getting faster with each step,” and “you are killing it.” You can also repeat statements, like “stay relaxed.”
4. Adapt to any conditions
Mental toughness not only arises during hard training sessions, but also by overcoming adversity thrown your way. If the weather is miserable, embrace it. Used to running at a specific time of day? Try running at a different time once in a while to practice switching your routine. Learning how your mind reacts to unpleasant experiences will help you formulate methods for tolerating and overcoming them.
5. Stick with it!
The moment your body crosses the threshold into an area of discomfort, your thoughts will seek a place of refuge. Negative thoughts will undoubtedly arise the longer and harder you run. In such moments, it is pivotal to enact self-discipline and train your mind to tolerate the experience instead of backing down and taking your foot off the gas. Developing this ability during your long runs and in practice each day will allow you to access this same skill set come race day when it matters most.