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Mindset and Motivation for Runners

exercise habits motivation personal training running May 27, 2021

I was so excited to reach out to our resident running expert, Amanda Bauer, to interview her for this blog!! Over and over, I watch her running clients hit personal records, show up for training runs in weather that astounds me, bust plateaus and all do it with a smile.

As a non-runner … I’m always in awe.

Amanda brings infectious levels of joy when talking about and teaching running, and I wanted to pick her brain on how she keeps herself and her clients in a good headspace and consistently motivated to stay on their programs!

What is the biggest challenge for new runners and veteran runners, when it comes to maintaining motivation and positivity?

Oooh… I would say the first ten minutes. If you know you know…. The first ten minutes of the run are often just going to be bad. They are. You want to go at your pace. You want to be fast. You won’t. Your body and your brain will fight you. 


What is your go-to tactic for yourself and your clients for managing that issue?

Slow down. Slow down. Slow down. Your brain needs to adjust to what the heck your body is doing. Your body needs to create some heat. Your breathing needs to figure out how to keep everything in check. 


I hear a lot about “positive thinking” in the motivation world. What is the “ideal” mindset for running?

Is anything “ideal”, ha ha!? If I had to choose, I would say confidence. 

Running is not an easy endeavor. It takes patience, technique and an ability to simultaneously focus and look ahead. You may be about to run a mile or a marathon, your mood may be borderline Scar or as happy as Pumba. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, you’ll never even start. 


For those of us who just don’t get into that elusive “zen” state that I hear some runners live for, what’s a simple way to manage the mental chatter during a run?

**A typical runner’s brain: I have 10 miles to go. That’s 90 minutes at my pace. I take 180 steps per minute. Times 90 is 16200 that right? 5 miles is about 10000 steps...but that’s walking? How many steps have I taken? 30. Good down to 16170 steps…**

I would love for someone to do a study on what runners think about during their training sessions. I do A LOT of math and I think a lot about tough things. So I don’t think it’s so much of a management of the mental chatter as it is quieting that part of your brain that says “STOP.” Math is a good distraction. And when your brain screams STOP, just slow down…..


What if the mental chatter is "I suck at this. omg. what the hell am I doing? This is awful. Look, a bird! Ugh. My foot feels weird..."  Any tips for the internal dialogue? 

This is a tough question and you’ve brought up a few different types of internal dialogue: negative self talk, exteroception and interoception. My best advice is the advice that coaches at Girls on the Run teach our girls:

“Recognize that negative self talk is a form of cloud cover over your star power, activate your star power by practicing activities and words that help your star shine brightest.”

Negative self talk and negative thoughts are so distracting to runners and there is no one way to get through it except to go through it. It’s hard and challenging but in the end running IS hard and it IS challenging and it makes our minds, bodies and sheer will that much stronger and well fortified.


When you have a scheduled run, and just “don’t want to”... how do you decide whether to take a rest day or tough it out?

 The first ten minutes is a very important litmus test. I’ve had runs where 2 steps into it I KNOW I am not into it. And some days I just don’t want to and an hour in I feel a smile spreading across my face and a sense of calm settling in my heart. 

You mention that the 1st 10 minutes is the biggest challenge... then refer to it as the litmus test for whether to keep running or break for the day. Can you say more? 

I think of this as an opportunity to get your “running brain engine” activated. Running is a motor program and you need the first 10 minutes or so to “rev” your engine. If your engine is low on fuel, you’re gonna know. Your body is just going to feel heavy and achy. Conversely, if you feel junky when you start but after that first ten minutes your brain and body are on board, the engine may have just been a touch cold and now the heat is on and you’ on your way.


Is your running motivation lacking? Schedule a free consultation with our expert running coach Amanda to see how she can help you work through your running slumps!



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