If you are a runner, you most certainly know that your physical abilities are an essential part of this sport and that becoming a good runner is not an easy job. However, you have most certainly hit a point in your runs when you have felt like you can not go any further. What did you do? Did you stop or did you move further to accomplish your goal?

If you are a good runner, you might have not given up at your first obstacle, but there may have been a few times when you quit earlier. If you make a quick comparison between motorcycle oils, you will be able to identify what oil is best to make your motorcycle run better, but what makes you move forward and not quit? The answer is your mind.

Eliud Kipchoge Breaks the 2 hour mark

How your mind influences your performance

When someone talks about a sport of the mind, people immediately focus their attention on chess. It is true, you have to use your mind while playing chess and your cognitive abilities will help you move forward in a game of chess. Your mind helps you move forward in running as well but in a different way.

Let’s start by thinking about how you become a good runner. You practice, practice and again practice because practice makes perfect. You transform running into a habit, which means that you form a neural pathway in your brain that is reinforced every time you run. This is the way your brain is transforming this action into an automated one.

After you get better at it, you start running marathons. You start small until you get to the big ones, but every runner has gotten to a point when they wanted to quit. They felt like they could not go any further. They felt like their body would stop working properly. Some of them quit and some of them moved forward. The former ones conquered their bodies. Or was it their mind?

Perspective makes all the difference

The brain has a sense of preservation. When we try to engage in an activity that is different from what we have experienced before, our brains will give us reasons as to why we should not do it. These reasons will make us think that the activity is hard to perform, that’s why we will eventually quit. 

People are not successful at accomplishing things because they feel like they are hard to do. The moment you think of something as easy to do, your body will follow. This is what happens during a ‘hitting the wall’ moment. When your mind tells you that you will not be able to do something because the body is tired and you have to stop, some people will stop.

But the ones that do not stop have a different mindset. Navy seals training works on the trainees changing their perspectives about how difficult physical situations they are in actually are. They are trained to know that their bodies are capable of anything and that they will be able to overcome obstacles

If you want to become one of the best runners, not just a good one, you have to think that you can do anything and not let anything scare you. This is how people with amputated legs can run marathons and win medals. Physically, they are impaired, but their mind does the work for them.

Yes, running is a sport of the mind. The best runners know that their bodies will follow their minds and that they are able to overcome any obstacle and become great if they train their minds at the same time as their bodies.