How to Overcome Mental Barriers That Almost Every Runner Faces

When you think about running, do you think about the mental obstacles you face? Do you think about how to overcome them? If you’re like most runners, the answer is probably no. But the fact is, every runner faces mental obstacles, and overcoming them is essential to success.

In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common mental obstacles runners face, and we’ll provide tips on how to overcome them. So if you’re ready to start tackling your mental obstacles, read on!

mental barriers

Common Running and Fitness Mental Blocks:

Negative Thoughts

We all face mental obstacles while running. It’s part of the sport. But, like all obstacles, we can overcome them if we know how.

Negative thinking is one of the biggest mental obstacles runners face. It can prevent us from seeing our own potential and stop us from reaching our goals.

Destructive thinking is dangerous because it can lead to shallow breathing, increased heart rate and tense muscles. It can also make us feel down about ourselves and our abilities.

So, how can we overcome these negative thoughts?

The first step is to recognise that we have the power to silence our negative thoughts. On your daily runs, practise being aware of your inner voice. When it says something negative, employ a motivating word, distracting thought or simply smile.

The second step is to focus on your positive qualities and achievements. Remember, you are a strong and capable runner. You have what it takes to overcome any obstacle.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re struggling to overcome a mental obstacle, talk to a friend, coach or therapist. They can offer support and guidance.

Mental obstacles are part of running. But, with the right mindset, we can overcome them.

Inferiority Complex

Sense of inferiority is another common mental challenge among runners. This can manifest itself in various ways, such as feeling like you’re not as good as other runners, that you don’t deserve to be in the race, or that you’re not prepared enough.

These feelings of inferiority are often based on irrational thoughts and can be very damaging to your confidence.

So, how can we overcome the sense of inferiority?

The best way to overcome them is to reframe your thinking. For example, instead of thinking “I’m not as good as those other runners,” tell yourself “I can do this. I’m just as capable as anyone else.”

Another way to change your mindset is visualisation. Picturing yourself achieving your running and fitness goals can be a powerful motivator. It can help you to stay focused and to believe in yourself.

Another helpful technique is to use affirmations and mantras. These are positive statements that you repeat to yourself, such as “I am a strong and capable runner.” By saying these things to yourself, you’ll start to believe them, and they’ll help to push you through when you’re feeling doubt.

Finally, remember that mentally tough athletes tend to be internally focused. They’re not worried about what others think or whether they’re being judged. They’re focused on their own form, their own goals, and their own pace. If you can learn to focus on the things that are within your control, you’ll be well on your way to overcoming the mental obstacles that every runner faces.

Self Doubt

When it comes to running, self-doubt can be a huge mental obstacle. It’s normal to question your ability and wonder if you’re really cut out for the sport. After all, running is a demanding physical activity that takes a lot of energy and discipline. But here’s the thing: confidence is actually one of the biggest predictors of athletic performance. If you don’t believe you stand a chance, you’re less likely to take the risks necessary for your goal.

So how do you get over self-doubt?

Use it as a stimulant! Good workouts or warm-up races can show you that your personal best is within reach. Remember, the only way to overcome self-doubt is to take action and prove to yourself that you can do it.

Rigid Goals

Another mental obstacle runners face is setting rigid goals. Performance goals are important, as they keep us keep up motivation and help us push hard. But if you are fixated on one particular goal, you risk disappointment if you fall short.

Instead of having a rigid goal, try using a goal range. This means setting a goal that’s slightly above or below your desired outcome. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon in 4:00, you might set a goal range of 4:00 to 4:14. Using a goal range can help you stay positive during your runs. If you have a rigid goal and you don’t hit your pace early on, you might start to stress. But if you have a goal range, you might still be on pace, and more likely to stay positive. Just remember to keep the range of your goals on the plus and minus sides of achievable. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your goal, without putting too much pressure on yourself.

Other mind tricks

Focus on the future.

Don’t think about the initial few minutes when your heart is thudding and your joints are creaking. Dwelling on the unpleasantness of the first few minutes will only lead to what’s known as “forecasting myopia,” which means you’ll focus too much on the negative and not enough on the positive. Instead, focus on the future and the great feeling you’ll have when you finish your run. It’s hard not to dwell on the unpleasant first few minutes. But if you can focus on the future, you’ll find that those barriers start to disappear. Soon, you’ll be able to think of the initial few minutes as a warm-up, and you’ll be looking forward to the runner’s high that comes after a few miles.

Take a breather

Another common mental obstacle runners face is the feeling of being overwhelmed. This can happen when you’re training for a big race or when you’re simply trying to stick to a running routine. The key to overcoming this obstacle is to take a breather.

There are a few different breathing exercises you can do to lower your heart rate and distract your brain from worries. One such exercise is to take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Another is to inhale for a count of four and then exhale for a count of eight.

Both of these exercises will help you to relax and focus on your running. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take a few minutes to do one of these exercises and you’ll be back on track in no time.


Make a list of your racing anxieties. This may seem like a counter-productive step, but it can actually be helpful to get your fears out in the open. Once you know what your specific running anxieties are, you can start to work on addressing them.

Cross out the ones you have no control over. Some things are just out of your control, like the weather or the course you’re running on. Rather than worrying about things you can’t change, focus on the things you can.

For the ones within your control, script an action plan and outline how you will overcome each. This is where that positive attitude comes in handy. Having a plan and knowing how you’ll deal with each of your anxieties will help you stay calm and focused during your run. This will help improve your training and remind you that you have covered all bases.

Remember that you are in control of your training and that you have the power to overcome any mental barriers that come your way. By being prepared and knowing what you’re up against, you’ll be one step closer to running your best.

Listen to music

Another way to overcome these mental obstacles is to listen to music. Music can help keep positive thoughts flowing and prevent runners from overthinking the main cause of choking or freezing up in sports music also has a powerful influence on heart rate, mellow rhythms lower it if it’s too high; fast upbeat tunes raise it to help you get ready to compete. There are so many different types of music out there, so it’s important to find something that works for you. If you’re struggling to get motivated, try some upbeat pop or rock songs. If you’re finding it hard to focus, try some classical music or nature sounds. And if you’re feeling really anxious, try some relaxation techniques or meditation.

Fire up your imagination

Picture your perfect race in your mind. What does the start area look like? Smell like? Feel like? What are you saying to yourself in the moments before the starter’s gun goes off? How do you feel when you cross the finish line? Write it all down or commit it to memory, and keep going over it in the days and hours leading up to the race. This will help to quieten any negative thoughts and better prepare you mentally for the challenge ahead.

These are just a few tips to help you break through mental barriers that almost every runner faces. Remember, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the journey.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
Scroll to Top