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Hi there I’m Suzy!

I uplift other women in the areas of running, lifting, and motherhood

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How to Overcome a Mental Running Rut


How do I know how to overcome a mental running rut?

Simple- I’ve been running marathons for 18 years, totaling 67 different 26.2 mile journeys.

Alongside each of those race finishes, of course, is a 10-16 week training program.

Lots of running!

When your time as a runner spans wide, you have a lot of experience owning your mindset.

Where’s your head at?

We’ve all heard long-distance running can be as challenging mentally as it is physically.

Some go as far as saying it is 75 percent mental and only 25 percent physical!

While there are certainly things I need to do in the upcoming weeks leading up to my string of Fall races, I’ve come to an important realization: I’ve never felt this good mentally.

Questions to ask yourself:

How is my training going?

What’s working? What isn’t?

Where do I more focus?

How am I feeling?

Have I grown? Where do I need to continue to grow? 

Where is my head at?


I’m focusing on the right things and not worrying about the things that either don’t matter or that I can’t control.

Focusing on what’s right for me, not what’s working for everyone else.

Not worrying about failing. I’m not second-guessing myself. 

Sure, my training hasn’t been perfect. There have been missed workouts. Not enough mobility. A few poor pre-workout food choices. A lot of hot days.

I’m training smart and trying hard.

What’s the secret?

Unfortunately, I know that there are probably many of you (or people you know), who are struggling with those internal demons – battling with the last days of summer heat, bonking more than usual.

There are several women in our First Strides group who are in a mental rut they just can’t seem to break out of. Very capable and strong runners who are actually questioning themselves as to whether they can actually “do it.”

It got me thinking: how do we spar with the voices in our head? How do we bust out of a mental running rut?

This shirt is by my pals at Feenix Apparel

Ideas for overcoming the voices in your head

Let’s brainstorm…

1: Don’t put pressure on yourself that doesn’t really exist

While it’s clearly important to have training and race goals, if those goals are unrealistic – or if you’re putting so much pressure on yourself to achieve those goals that it’s making you miserable – just stop.

Stop right now.

If you ran a killer 10K or half-marathon time in the spring and now think everyone is expecting you to crush your marathon PR, just stop.

Of course I hope that happens, but if it doesn’t, it’s ok. No one is going to be disappointed.

People are going to be proud and inspired simply by the fact that you’re out there trying. Crossing the finish line is a major accomplishment.

If you’re in a mental rut because you’re too worried about hitting a specific time, then maybe you should think about adjusting your “A goal” to just finishing strong.

2: Stop competing with everyone around you

Stop worrying about how fast the fastest girl in your training group is going.

Quit killing yourself to keep up with your speedy friends, only to die out during the last half of your run.

Don’t compare your performance to other people’s norms (especially if it’s someone like me who has over 60 marathons under her fuel belt!).

Instead, celebrate others’ successes, and don’t forget to celebrate your own.

There are many different versions of success. Focus on what is working well for YOU and harness that.

3: Train smart to race stronger

Training smart means everything from backing off your pace on super-hot days, incorporating slow recovery days and not pushing yourself so much that it could cause injury.

Pssst- I’m a huge fan of using the McMillan Running Calculator as a pacing guide.

You can’t and shouldn’t run race-pace every run. And you can’t expect every run to be fast, magical and perfect. It just isn’t realistic.

I wrote an entire article about pacing here if you want to go deep, but the BLUF is this: recovery makes you faster, so give your body time to rest!

4: Be your own cheerleader. 

While support from friends, family and fellow runners is key to being successful in endurance sports, you have to believe in yourself.

You have to see the positive things you’re doing.

Don’t only be proud of a single great run; also recognize that you’re simply getting out there and trying.

You woke up at 5 a.m. to go running on Saturday morning. You put in an eight hour work day and then hit the treadmill instead of the couch.

You’re doing things other people make excuses to avoid! Pat yourself on the back for that.

So what if your miles are 15-30 seconds slower than you would have liked yesterday? So what if you had to walk for 2 minutes last weekend?

You did it.

You’re doing it.

Go get some pom poms and shake them in your face!

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

5: If it isn’t fun, don’t do it

Try to think back to why you started running. What do you love about it? Why have you kept doing it? What makes it enjoyable? I hope you can remember.

If it causes you more misery than joy, perhaps it’s time for a break.

Perhaps you need to drop down from the full marathon to the half.

Maybe you need to wait until next year to run a race.

It can be a little hard to accept, but a break could be all you need to bust through your mental running rut.

A different priority to focus on. Something that will renew your joy. 

Let’s chat about this!

Come over to this Instagram post and tell me how your running is going!

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If you are in need of a personalized program, send me a message. Otherwise, you can check out my template programswhich offer a simple approach to distances 5K-26.2.