Running is more than just putting one foot in front of another faster than the competition. It’s a very mental sport.

When you hit the middle of a hard race, you might struggle with your mental toughness. There are ways to build up your mental toughness for the hard races. Let’s look at some of the ways you can stay mentally tough when you’re out on the course during your next race.

5 Ways to Remain Mentally Tough During a Hard Race

1. Train

The first step to remaining mentally tough is proper training. You want to train your mind and body for pain. Long-distance running is going to cause you some pain, especially during a hard race. Train your body and your mind to expect pain.

Learn to push through as you train. It should hurt during training. As you train, you will get stronger and that hard race will become easier.

2. Mantras Help

Many long-distance runners use mantras to stay focused on the race and remain mentally tough. You can come up with your own or use one that’s already out there. Some runners will compare themselves to someone in a moving, such as Rocky or they might repeat a phrase to help convince their mind that they are not tired.

Short phrases, such as, “one step at a time” work the best. You should be able to easily remember your mantra and repeat it over and over again. There are many sample running mantras you can use found here.

3. Make Your Form Your Focus

Mental toughness

Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a hard race, your focus shifts. Focus on the form of your running to help get back on track. This can help distract your mind and help you push through.

As you focus on your form and your mechanics, you will forget about the pain, even if it’s just temporary. This can help you during a race.

4. Think About Where You Are and Where You Came From

You started at zero and you might be halfway through the longest run of your life. This is a big deal. Thinking about how far you’ve already gone can help distract you from what’s left in your race.

When you start to have a moment of doubt, remember how far you have come. You will always be challenged during a race. How you push through is what matters most. Sometimes, just realizing how far you’ve come can help you push through.

5. Use Counting

Many runners will count to distract themselves when they hit a difficult spot in the race. Some runners know if they count to a specific number, it means they just ran another mile. You can figure this out during training, but counting can be a great distraction during a difficult race.

When you want to stay mentally tough and push through, it starts with training. Along with training, it’s good to have a few strategies you can turn to. Try out these tips and figure out what works best for you