Running and Pain: How to Overcome Your Mental Blocks

A runner's brain is constantly flooded by sensory input information: feedback from the muscles, skin, lungs, eyes, ears, feet and nerves. All of the messages can overwhelm and create a lack of confidence, particularly during a hard workout, long run or race when you're chasing a PR. Runners need to take all of these messages and warp them into what serves their best interests in order to perform optimally and remain happy.

How to Cope With Physical Messages

Typically, the loudest feedback responders come from your muscles and lungs, as a result of what's happening to your cardiovascular system and lactic-threshold responders. The muscles are announcing that they're working; those mitochondria are breaking down glycogen and supplying you with energy to run.

These basic, primordial messages get sent to your brain. You can't change that these messages will be sent, and that they'll most often contain "shouts" of pain, complaints and fatigue.

More: Improve Your Run With Mental Toughness Training

You can't control what messages are coming in while you're running, but you can control how you interpret them. A runner who is mentally tough is not only able to manage these messages, but also to get as close to ignoring this type of sensory feedback as much as he or she can. Here's how you can do the same:

1. Anticipate: The ability to manage what your legs and body are telling you while you run starts before your first step. This is called anticipating the discomfort that is pain. We must accept that races and workouts will hurt, but deny that the pain will break us.

2. Realize: Once you realize that everyone will hurt when they push themselves during running, you know that you're not alone. Admitting that you feel pain is not a weakness, and admitting that the workouts you complete are tough isn't a weakness. These only become weaknesses when you start to believe that you can't complete the workouts because of the pain.

More: Do Your Running Goals Match Your Reason for Running?

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