Running Strategies for the Mnid

Mental Tricks for a Better Run

Tired and cranky? Use these 10 simple strategies to beat brain fatigue and run strong

Rev Up Your Mental Energy

Mental Tricks for a Better Run // focused woman running © Thinkstock

Image: Thinkstock

Amanda Rice knows how hard it is to run at the end of a long day. On top of her duties as a U.S. naval officer, Rice, 27, is in her final year of dental school and makes annual trips abroad to assist with community dentistry in places like Guatemala and Samoa. She's also a 2:44 marathoner and 2012 Olympic Trials qualifier. "Sometimes I'm so tired from treating patients all day," she says, "that I wonder if I should just skip my workout."

Mental fatigue can negatively impact physical performance, according to a study out of Bangor University's School of Sport, Health, and Exercise Sciences. Researchers split athletes of similar capabilities into two groups prior to an exhaustive cycling exercise. One group performed a tough 90-minute cognitive task, and the other watched documentaries. Once on the bikes, the mentally tasked riders displayed significantly less stamina than the movie watchers, and felt the exercise was more difficult. Their physical performance suffered because their brains were tired.

The challenge, then, is to find ways to change your thought process and realize that your body can handle a workout. Refocus, acknowledge that you'd rather crash on the couch, but put on your running shoes anyway, says Marshall Mintz, a clinical and sports psychologist. "Once you get going, even if it's for an easy three-miler, it almost always feels good to be running," he says.

More: An easy way to motivate your run: New sneakers! Find your perfect pair with the 2011 Summer Shoe Guide.