What are the best mental skills for runners?

Developing mental strength in any sport is essential, but it's often overlooked. Many athletes focus on their Physical, Technical and Tactical development, but this leaves Psychological development unchecked. Think about it...when was the last time you actually set time aside to train your mental skills?


There are LOTS of mental skills that runners can use. Some of the best tried and tested skills for runners include:

  1. Visualisation: Visualisation (also known as mental rehearsal or imagery), is the practice of creating mental images of the race, including the start, the course, and the finish line. This can help runners to prepare for the race mentally and emotionally, as well as build confidence.
  2. Self-talk: Self-talk is the language that athletes use to talk to themselves. Positive self-talk can help runners to maintain focus and stay motivated, while negative self-talk can have the opposite effect.
  3. Mindfulness: Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and focusing on the sensations and feelings associated with running. This can help runners to stay focused, manage stress and anxiety, and stay in a positive mental state.
  4. Goal-setting: Setting clear, realistic goals can help runners to focus their training and give them something to work towards. This can increase motivation and provide a sense of accomplishment after the race.
  5. Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, can help runners to manage stress and anxiety, reduce muscle tension, and increase focus.
  6. Positive self-image: Believing in oneself and having a positive self-image can play a significant role in a runner's mental preparation and performance. Sport psychologists can help runners to develop a positive self-image and increase their confidence.

It is important to note that these mental skills are not mutually exclusive and can be used in combination to create a well-rounded mental preparation strategy. Runners should experiment to find which mental skills work best for them and make them a regular part of their training routine.


I have some great options for your to learn more about mental skills for running.

Option 1 - Join my on-demand Running Psychology Programme where you get four great workshops on the topics of Confidence, Self-talk, Mental Rehearsal and Performance Anxiety. More info via this link.

Option 2 - Book one of my One to One workshops on any of the topics above. Workshops are delivered via Zoom on a day / time to suit you. More info via this link.


Feel free to contact me via this page and I'll get back to you ASAP.