You’ve heard that running is 90% mental and 10% physical, although it feels the opposite when you’re on a grueling long run, or any run—tempo, fartlek, intervals. When you feel like you can’t run another lap, your legs feel like steel, and your mind is screaming I can’t do it, using positive affirmations can help you push through the doubt and pain. The mind can overcome any physical obstacle if you learn to channel your thoughts positively through mantras. Mantra, a Sanskrit word which means “instrument for thinking.” It’s a short phrase used to center the mind in meditation. Most elite runners use mantras as positive affirmations to reach their goals.
Recently, I mentioned to a friend that I love my morning meditation. She thought I meant sitting in a quiet, serene space with my eyes closed. When I explained that I meditate during my runs she laughed and retorted, “How can you meditate and run at the same time? Impossible.” Non-runners always have that response. I tried to explain how one can find meditation in motion through breathing, concentrated attention, and mantras. During yoga, controlled breathing and chants facilitate deep meditation. Meditative running is the same concept.
Good mantras divert your mind from negative thoughts and help you transcend the pain. I’ve had many mantras over the years, some I still resort to. Somehow, long after the run is finished, I find myself using the same positive affirmations when I’m challenged with other tasks. Those words are ingrained in my mind. At some point words became numbers. I would count every foot strike until I’d reached 100 and then start the count all over again. Counting is a method of distracting my mind from the physical strain. After a few miles, I’m so lost in numbers; the physical act of running feels light and easy.
These are a few mantras I’ve used over the years. Short, concise, instructive, and positive.
- I AM strong, I AM fast, I AM pure energy, I AM air
- Learn to suffer through the pain
- You got this
- Long, slow distance
- Keep moving forward
- Strong and steady
- This too shall pass
- Yes, I can. Yes, I can. Yes, I can
- Just breathe
Elite Runner’s Favorites
“You’re tougher than the rest.”
“Think strong, be strong, finish strong.”
—RENEE METIVIER BAILLIE
“Make it or break it.”
—The Bruce Lee
What’s your favorite?