3 Mental Techniques for Endurance Athletes

1. Patience

The only way to train your mind for the monotony of an endurance event is through long training days. Although a 15-mile weekly run certainly prepares your body for a marathon, its most important function might be building mental endurance.

Running a successful marathon, ultra marathon or triathlon requires more than patience, however. To thrive in an endurance event, you need the determination to stick with your training. Learn to develop patience, trust in your training and wait for the results to come.


One of the best ways to handle the ebbs and flows of an endurance event is visualization. Whether you're training or racing, it's important to constantly be picturing yourself succeeding. Visualize the finish line. Imagine the moment you beat your personal record. If you constantly practice visualizing yourself as a successful athlete, you will become one.


Endurance events allow plenty of time for negative thoughts to creep in. Prepare your mind for such thoughts by pushing your body to its limit during training. While preparing for my last 50 mile Ultra Run, I put in a lot of time practicing relaxation at near maximum running levels. This mental training paid off during the last few miles, when my body was ready to quit.

If you've already pushed yourself past the quitting point during preparation, you'll be able to relax and rely on your training when the time comes to perform. With cheering fans, drink stations and optimal conditions, events are designed to help you run your fastest times. Every time you feel doubt rising up, draw on your training, remember that you've done this without support many times before—and relax.

Learning how to discipline your mind to stay positive and focused through long miles is the secret to getting the most out of your endurance training. More than anything else, a positive mental approach to long, boring runs will lead you to the promised land in endurance events: the finish line.

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