Positive thinking is potentially the hardest feat that a runner must overcome. Sure, physical strength is a true blue part of running- but even the athlete with the most jacked calves can’t always out-perform a runner with a strong will. In my opinion, the hardest part of running is mental. The physical part can obviously be demanding, but without a good head on your shoulders, you’re not going to be able to push hard enough to be a true success. If a runner always believes that she can’t push through to the end, then she isn’t going to be a very successful athlete. Runners without positive attitudes are more likely to give up on training or a race than those with a supportive and strong mind.

Having to stay positive is something that I really used to struggle with. In high school, twice a week I would go from school, to ballet class, to track practice, back to ballet class, then to musical rehearsal. My running, dancing, and singing all seemed to suffer because I was so miserable. However, once I took a step back and realized how lucky I was, I was able to perform much better. A simple attitude change can make all the difference, and not only with running.  Except this is a running magazine, so I’ll focus on that!

A strong mind is equally as important as a strong body. Being able to have positive thoughts is what will push you to go that extra mile in a long training run. Optimism is key when it comes to pushing through the halfway point of a cross country race. If you are constantly thinking, “This is terrible. Why am I doing this? I would do anything for a slice of pizza and a nap right now!” then you’re probably not going to have a very good performance. Think about it in terms of school: if you are supposed to be taking a test, but all you can think about is the nice summer day outside, you’re probably not going to ace your exam. The same concept applies to running; focus on the task at hand.

Being positive doesn’t have to be being unrealistic; sometimes, being positive can just mean accepting the truth. Maybe you had a bad race- that’s completely ok! A pessimistic runner would dwell on that one bad performance and beat themselves up about it for the next week. A positive runner would understand that everyone has a bad day; she would reflect back on the race, learn from her mistakes, and move on. Positivity doesn’t have to be being thrilled about an off day. It could simply mean being excited for the future.

Everyone feels a bit pessimistic at times. The true joy in running comes from being able to overcome the days where you would rather be napping than out on the roads. I always feel that the most worthwhile runs are those that I dread the most. Being able to look back on a run and feel proud is one of the most rewarding feelings a runner can have.