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How working on your running can lead to a strong mind — and working on your mind can lead to a stronger run.


Ask any runner you know what they get out of running and you might get a few answers like these: “It clears my mind and helps me focus.” “I feel great afterwards.” “It gives you a boost.” “Since I started training I feel like I can achieve more.” If you’re a runner some of these might resonate with you. What do these things have in common? They’re all mental benefits.

Personally, I can attest to this. When I focus on my run, I can tune out the everyday hassles going round in my mind. In the same way, when I get back to my desk, I’ve got a much sharper approach to my work. After I’ve logged some miles in the nearby park, getting down to creative work is a lot easier.

But it’s not just anecdotal. It’s well-known that exercise brings with it an endorphin pay-off, and is a good way to de-stress.

Running in itself offers other ways to improve your mindset. Maybe you’ve pushed yourself to go out and pound the tarmac on a rainy winter morning, in the dark before work.

Or you go for just one more mile or one extra interval. In these cases, it’s not just the endorphins that lift you. You learn to build your self-discipline and resilience. Along with the endorphins, there’s an extra feeling of victory at the end.


From experience, I’ve also noticed that just the act of setting yourself a running goal and training for it consistently, putting in the work, can give you a feeling of confidence and self-belief.

To get some expert insight on this aspect, I spoke to Andrew Cohen-Wray – an athlete, mental performance coach and Founder of Athlete in Mind. He described the mindset his 5k trainees develop: by pushing hard in the training, he explains, they’ve done the tough bit. So when race day comes, the mental strength comes with it. It’s the training that creates the strong mindset.

… and vice versa.


And, of course, your mindset feeds into your run. Andrew works on helping clients improve the mental side of the equation, so that they can perform at their best athletically.

Your body is governed by your brain, he says, so having the right mindset is key to top performance.

When you work on your mental performance it enables you to go further.

He explains that mental ‘baggage’, stuff we hold onto, can affect your run, and it’s important to let go of this. Athletes often have a simple ritual that helps them to do this before a race, so they can focus completely.


Another key mindset strategy is to control the controllables: don’t worry about the things you can’t do anything about, and just deal with what you can control, he says. If something is making you nervous or anxious and you can’t do anything about it, let it go. But take action on the things you can — if you’re nervous because of an unfamiliar half marathon, get there early, for example.

‘Control the controllables’ — this sounds like the best advice I’ve heard in ages, and not just for running. To bring this full circle I want to know if the mental strategies you learn for athletics can be transferred to everyday life. Andrew believes they can. Learning how to be confident on the track is something you can take into the job interview or sales pitch.

Athletic performance is human performance,’ he says.

Andrew has generously offered EVOSSI readers the chance to get 20% off an initial 2 hour consolation and assessment for Andrew’s performance coaching. You can find him here:

 By Elizabeth Mason, Keen Runner & Writer