Mental tricks for daily training: 10 effective techniques

In running, as in many other sports, the mental aspect plays a crucial role in tapping into full potential. In this article, we will explore the importance of mental tricks and introduce 10 techniques to train the mind.

How can mental tricks help? 

Running is a challenge that involves both body and mind (e.g., in terms of perseverance). In addition to physical training, it can make sense to invest time in mental training.

In the world of professional sports, the role of the mental coach is recognized and established. Two athletes with the same characteristics, potentials and preparation levels can have a completely different race experience depending on their mental strength. Mental training can decide whether someone gives in to fatigue and succumbs to pressure, or surpasses their own limits and turns stress into motivation.

The mind thus has a direct influence on athletic performance. A person with a positive attitude has a higher chance of achieving their goals. This is because mental training can help manage demanding training sessions and counteract negative thoughts that can occur during a race.

Of course, mental training requires practice and commitment, just like endurance or strength training. Here are 10 effective techniques for developing and strengthening the mind.

1. Put your goals in the foreground

When you are frustrated, distracted, or feel like giving up, try to remember the initial motivation that prompted you to train. These motivations are a source of inner energy that can help you overcome obstacles on your path. Ask yourself questions like: Why am I training? What do I want to achieve? Why do I want to run a marathon? What are my strengths?

2. Visualization

Visualization means putting yourself mentally into an upcoming event and going through it in detail – from your feelings and possible challenges to the race course and the support of the crowd. This technique is an invaluable tool for staying calm, dealing with pressure and boosting self-confidence.

When visualizing, it is crucial to go down to the smallest detail: Imagine the course, feel the excitement of the spectators cheering you on, and mentally transport yourself to the finish line where you imagine the joy of embracing your loved ones and celebrating your success. Remembering past competitions or challenging training sessions where you have performed at your best and achieved personal best times can also boost your motivation and determination.

3. Redirect your attention

If you face challenges during a workout, try to shift your attention away from the current difficulties. Focus either on yourself – an associative approach – by paying attention to your steps, feeling the sweat on your forehead, tracking your breathing rhythm, or observing the movement of your arms. Alternatively, you can focus on external aspects – a dissociative approach – such as the beauty of nature around you, the cheers from the audience, fellow runners, or the music accompanying you. These shifts in thought can help you mentally escape the effort.

4. Look for like-minded people

Running with a friend, your partner, or a running group can have a positive psychological impact on your performance. The presence of running partners can encourage and motivate, pushing each other to maintain the pace and tackle the final kilometers with determination.

5. Set mini-goals

Sometimes, the goal or the end of the training seems unreachable! A good trick is to set yourself “mini-goals” along the way: Run to that tree at the end of the road, take the next turn, conquer that hill… Dividing the course into such small segments not only keeps your motivation up but also lets you celebrate every small success. This makes the big goal suddenly seem much more achievable and less intimidating.

6. Embrace the enthusiasm of the spectators

At running competitions, the cheering from the audience can provide a huge boost and motivate you not to give up and to give it your all. The shouts and enthusiasm of the spectators along the route are an unmatched source of energy. They help you forget the pain and take full advantage of the wave of adrenaline that is released.

7. Listen to music

Listening to music while running can be a powerful motivational tool. Create a playlist that includes both your favorite songs and those that give you a particular boost of energy, and let it accompany you during your workout or in difficult moments of the race. Music can improve your mood, distract you from the effort, and increase your energy, allowing you to maintain a steady pace and face challenges with courage.

8. Engage in self-talk

Self-talk, or the inner dialogue with oneself, is an effective technique in running, as thoughts can significantly influence our performance. This inner dialogue serves as a tool for self-conviction and encouragement, enabling us to overcome difficult obstacles like the last kilometer of a training session or the dreaded “marathon wall”. Phrases like “Don’t give up”, “Come on, just one more km”, “You can do it, stay calm” can be extremely helpful in keeping motivation high and overcoming the toughest moments of running.

9. Establish a routine

Establishing a well-structured pre-race routine can be crucial for mentally preparing for the competition and reducing stress. Even before training, it can be difficult to leave the worries of everyday life behind. Creating a repeatable routine can help you get into the right mindset for training. For example, dedicate 10 minutes to stretching, listen to a motivational song, and practice breathing techniques like diaphragmatic breathing or rhythmic breathing to calm the mind and increase the body’s oxygen supply.

10. Post-race analysis

After each race or significant training session, it’s important to take the time to analyze your performance. This practice allows you to evaluate what worked well, the progress made, and the areas that can be improved, in order to learn from mistakes and achieve better results in the future. Recording your sensations and reflections in a journal can be particularly useful for developing greater self-awareness and planning future goals and progress.


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