TotR: Breaking Through

Welcome back to Tuesdays on the Run, the linkup I share along with Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and Erika from MCM Mama Runs.  Our topic today is Breaking through a Mental Barrier in Training which is pretty darn relevant because I’ve been struggling with my training myself lately.


I’ve found that the biggest mental barriers for me come from having had bad runs and bad races.  When I have one bad run, it gets stuck in my head and completely shakes my confidence.  The two worst runs I had are still etched in my mental and emotional memories.  One was the first time I attempted six miles when training for my first Princess Half.  I’m still not sure what happened but I just hit a wall and felt awful.  And it set my training back by months because I was afraid to have that experience (failure) again.

The second terrible run was the Tink Half where I just gave up halfway through and walked the rest of the way.  Somehow I’d convinced myself that I was having a medical condition and was going to pass out or die (I was absolutely fine, I just got all messed up in my head).  It was miserable and it made me terrified during the first few miles of the Princess Half that I’d have the same experience.

The root cause of my mental barriers is FEAR.  Fear that I’m going to fail, fear that I’m going to embarrass myself by getting sick or collapsing, fear that I’m going to feel awful, fear that I’ll have another bad run.  So I let the fear trick me into staying “safe” by reducing my distance goals, my speed goals, my finish time goals.

On the one hand, I think it’s important to learn from the bad runs.  Fear can be useful if it keeps me from starting out too fast or pushing myself too hard.  But fear can (and does!) still hold me back from achieving my goals.  Fear can make me stay in the “safe” zone where I know I can finish a run or a race but I don’t push myself to achieve what I am capable of.

So, how to break through the fear that’s holding me back?  Well, I think the first step is recognizing the fear and accepting that I am afraid and that it’s ok to be afraid.  The next step is to accept that it is ok to fail, to have a bad run.  And the final step is to suck it up and be brave and to try despite the fear.


So that’s my new mantra!  I’m going to just do it.  Even if I’m afraid.  Even if I fail.  I just have to try!

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TotR: Breaking Through — 21 Comments

  1. I would have to agree that fear is a huge cause for my mental barriers too! And I think what you said about one bad run or race definitely rings true for me as well. Instead of thinking about the bad runs, I try to then shift my focus to the good ones. I like your mantra!
    Thanks for hosting the link up! This is my first time linking up with you guys:)
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Breaking Through a Mental Wall in TrainingMy Profile

    • Focusing on the good runs is definitely the way to go. Thanks for linking up with us, hope to see you back again!

  2. I definitely struggle with the same mental roadblocks from time to time. It can really derail my training as well as my self esteem. I try to put it into perspective and remember that I am running because I enjoy it and it’s good for me not because of a time goal. At the end of the day, it won’t matter whether I ran 1 minute faster or slower-just that I ran.
    Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner recently posted…Veggie Breakfast Casserole (good enough to fool a meat eater)My Profile

    • My biggest problem is that I let the fear keep me from pushing as hard as I should in training and races. I’m afraid I won’t finish so I don’t run the first half of a race/run nearly as fast as I should sometimes. But you’re right, just having fun and getting fit is the most important thing!

  3. Thank you April! I really needed to hear this. As you will see from my post today, fear plays a huge role in my racing life right now. It’s not because I feel undertrained, or unmotivated, or even because I don’t think that I can do it. I don’t know where the fear comes from, but it’s there. When I get to my PC, i’m going to send you a link to a song I want you to listen to! -M
    Meranda@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…Building up confidence AFTER signing up for a race challange: AKA Goofy ChallengeMy Profile

    • Definitely send me that song! Thanks for linking up with us, it’s always great to see what you have to say!

    • I have a lot of confidence issues but they’re balanced out by a big old stubborn streak. So even though I’m held back from some things by being afraid, if I sign up for something, I am too stubborn NOT to give it a try! Congrats on Boston!!

  4. When I had that bad long run last month and could barely make it through, even though I finished the 10 miles, I was so nervous the next time I ran! It was just a 4 miler with my group but I was so scared I was going to have another horrible run! It wasn’t until it went well that I actually felt better! It’s funny how these things affect us.
    AMP runs recently posted…Tuesdays on the Run: Mental ToughnessMy Profile

    • It’s crazy how a bad run can mess with your head. I’ve only had one bad race in the last decade but it sure shook my confidence.

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