You are on the start line of the event you have been preparing for so long… You are motivated to accomplish your running goal and ready to give your best. And you think and feel like nothing can stop you. There is no way you will give up unless you succeed…

But you are fresh on the start line. The exhaustion hasn’t come. Your heart rate is low. And you have no problems thinking this way. You feel fresh, and you think fresh. It is all about this connection

You start! Now you are into the run. Your heart rate rises gradually… Are you thinking the same way? Are you thinking at all? Do you feel as invincible as you were at the start? Tiredness starts to come… It is not the same…

There is still a distance to come… You are not thoroughly exhausted. You pace yourself. Still fine. You know you can do more. And you are ready to push at every second because there is still energy inside you. As long as you can do that, you are fine! The thoughts are fine as well…

The finish starts to get closer and closer. And now… It is time for the pyre. It is time to push your limits and squeeze every ounce of energy and life inside you to reach the best result. And it is time to turn on the fire… 

running is mental and all the burning inside you is only a sensation. A man who is on fire and is running

You enter the pyre, and the sense of your legs and arms diminishes. How do you feel now? Tired? Exhausted? Do you feel anything at all? What are your thoughts now?

Do you still feel as invincible as you were on the start line? Is there a tiny voice telling you to lower the speed? To give up the pursuit? There always is!

This is the critical moment where everything happens – the win or the loss. The success or the failure. The accomplishment or the disappointment.

When you are on the edge of pushing your limits, you have two options – to enter the fire fully or to become afraid of the heat and step back where you feel comfortable. 

This is the make or break. And the final touches of your running excellence are always made by your mind power. Because when you enter the ground of leg burn, the land of pain, the ground of discomfort, you can’t rely more on your legs. They are gone! It is time to rely on your willpower and mindset.

picture of the brain which is where is the mind power and why running is mental

And this state will always come at a certain point. You can beat it only with mind power. And that is why running is mental. And endurance as a whole is mental. That is why it is essential to master your mindset and make yourself able to utilize your potential better. Let’s begin this mastery with…

Why Running Is Mental?

It is all about the senses. As I said, it is in this connection: at the start line, you feel fresh – you think fresh. The result is you believe that you are invincible – there is no reason not to. And your behavior is accordant. 

When you enter the final stages of the run – you feel exhausted – you think like you are exhausted. The result is that you believe you will die and are conquerable. There is a reason to because you feel great pain and burn. And your behavior is accordant. Most people give up the pursuit, slow the pace, or stop.

But there is one detail… The fact that you feel exhausted does not mean that you can’t bear it anymore! It is vital to understand that when you “get tired,” you perceive the senses of pain and burn as something that indicates you cannot continue the intensity. But this perception is only a thought

In fact, the perception of the pain and the thoughts you receive are separate from the ability of your muscles to contract. Yes, you stop feeling them when you enter the anaerobic zone, and you may start feeling pain.

Still, regardless of those sensations, nothing can prevent you from sending a neuro impulse and giving the order for the next contraction, even though you don’t feel that contraction. 

Running is mental because… The fact that you feel and think you cannot continue does not mean you cannot continue… Your muscles can do the same job as in the beginning. Only the sense is different. Let’s see in more detail exactly…

When Running Is Mental? 

It is when you push your limits, perform at maximum capacity, and enter the anaerobic zone. The anaerobic zone is when the intensity is too high, and the oxygen delivery for your muscles is insufficient. This is where you change the gear and enter the red zone of RMP. 

picture of RPM speedometer representing the high intensity in running
Lactic acid is starting to build in the muscle. Picture with legs that are in this mode

This is when your muscles start to feed differently, and lactic acid starts to build up rapidly. The fact… the work of your muscles is not terminated; it only changes its fuel source! It goes from aerobic to anaerobic. You still have fuel! This is the most important thing to understand! 

You still have fuel! Only the working process has changed! You raise the intensity; you go to the 7000/8000 RPM and start to burn energy more rapidly, but… 

The change in condition from: “the aerobic, slow burn of energy and a pleasant sense of your legs” to “the anaerobic, high intensity, and high burn of energy, emptying the fuel tank faster + the feel of burn and pain” does not mean the end of the run! No! It feels like this, but IT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING of the best part!

Once people enter the anaerobic zone and feel the burn and pain, they think it is time to stop, and this is their max. This can’t be further from the truth! This is when running is mental.

In fact, you can continue the muscle contraction long after you enter the anaerobic zone. It is only a change in the feeding process of your muscles! It starts to take from the reserves. But the reserves are deeper than you think! 

This sense of the anaerobic zone is what makes running mental. Running is mental because to reach your maximum performance and give everything your body is capable of, you need to enter the zone of High RPM, enter the pyre, and dwell there until you truly reach your max! And yes- it is totally unpleasant for the senses. But…

The Key To Realizing Your Full Running Potential

It is becoming master over your senses and not letting the feelings be the master of you! You will feel pain, burn, discomfort, and urge to stop.

Your mind will tell you everything to make you slow down. You will feel like you need to. And this will always happen no matter how trained you are or how strong and endurable you are.

Here we talk about utilizing everything that your current shape and capabilities can offer. Yes, you will get faster by training your muscles and cardiovascular endurance.

But it is all about using and giving 100% of everything you have. And after 80/85%, to continue and realize your full potential, you need mind power because then, running is mental rather than physical. 

You can have better physical qualities than runner X. Still, if you rely only on them and reach 80% of what you can give without entering the mind game of pushing your limits, then when runner X with his great mind power, manages to deliver 100% of what he has, he gets better results! 

And the transition from 80% when you still feel alive to 100% when you are on the pyre is accomplished by ignoring the senses and muting the thoughts and urge to stop.

And all this is accomplished by awareness! Once you realize that when you enter the anaerobic zone, the run doesn’t stop, you skyrocket what you can give! 

Realize how the running and the function of your muscles work. Understand what happens when you enter the pyre- the anaerobic zone with lactic acid build-up. Know that it is not the end of the run, and you still have the energy to fuel your muscles; it is simply in different forms.

And once you are confident that you won’t die when you enter the anaerobic zone, and there is still energy and opportunity to run beyond the pain and burn, you will be much more able to ignore the urge to stop and will push your limits! This way, the accomplishments you make will be multiplied!

Let the legs stop you when they truly can move anymore, not the mind! The mind will tell you much sooner that you have hit the ceiling. Don’t believe it! If you can move those legs – you are fine.

The sense is only an illusion. The burn is a different way of fueling your muscles, which you don’t experience daily. It is unusual. But it is not impossible! It is only different! 

Keep running, even in those moments when all safety systems turn on and tell you to stop. These are the best moments which you can give to yourself! Then, you are invincible! And not because you think you are, like, on the start line. But because you show with your actions that you are… Unquestionable!


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