Learning how to run faster isn’t just about putting one foot in front of the other quicker. 

It involves a mix of physical prowess and mental strategies. 

As a sports psychologist, I’ve seen firsthand how powerful the mind can be in enhancing athletic performance. 

Here are some tips to help you speed up your runs by harnessing the power of your mind.

Set Clear Goals

First things first, set clear and achievable goals! 

Knowing what you’re aiming for gives you a sense of direction and purpose when learning how to run faster. 

Without a goal, it’s easy to lose motivation or feel aimless in your training. 

When you set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals, you create a roadmap to success.

Goal setting isn’t just a motivational tool.

It’s a strategic approach to improve your running performance. 

When you have a clear target, your training becomes more structured and focused. 

Instead of just running to run, you’re running with a purpose. 

This purpose fuels your dedication and perseverance, especially on those days when you feel less motivated.

To help illustrate, here are some examples of clear running goals:

  1. Short-term: “I will run 15 miles this week, with at least one run being 5 miles long.”
  1. Mid-term: “In three months, I aim to complete a 10K race under 50 minutes.”
  1. Long-term: “By this time next year, I will complete a marathon in under four hours.”

These goals are specific and measurable, giving you a clear target to aim for and a way to track your progress.

By setting clear and achievable goals, you lay the foundation for a successful running experience and actually run faster. 

These goals guide your training, keep you motivated, and help you track your progress, ensuring that you stay on the path to becoming a faster, more efficient runner.

Mental Visualization Techniques

Ever heard the saying, “If you can see it, you can achieve it”? 

That’s the power of visualization. 

Before your runs, take a few minutes to visualize yourself running effortlessly and achieving your goals. 

Picture the route, the pace, and how great you’ll feel crossing the finish line. 

This mental rehearsal can boost your confidence and prepare your mind and body for the real thing so that you end up running faster. 

Many successful athletes swear by this technique, and there’s plenty of research backing it up.

Visualization, also known as mental imagery, isn’t just daydreaming. 

It’s a powerful psychological technique that involves creating vivid, detailed images in your mind of a desired outcome. 

Research shows that visualization activates the same neural pathways in the brain as actually performing the activity. 

This means that by mentally practicing your runs, you’re essentially training your brain and muscles, which can enhance your physical performance.

How to Practice Visualization

1. Find a Quiet Space:

Choose a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed. 

Sit or lie down in a relaxed position, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to calm your mind.

2. Create a Detailed Mental Picture:

Visualize every aspect of your run. 

Imagine the starting line, the sound of your feet hitting the pavement, your steady breathing, and the rhythm of your strides. 

Picture the scenery around you, whether it’s a forest trail, city streets, or a track.

3. Focus on All Senses:

Engage all your senses in your visualization. 

Feel the breeze on your face, hear the cheering crowd or the quiet of nature, and smell the fresh air. 

This multisensory approach makes the visualization more vivid and realistic.

4. Imagine Overcoming Challenges:

Visualize potential challenges you might face during your run, such as fatigue, hills, or tough weather conditions. 

See yourself overcoming these obstacles with strength and resilience. 

This prepares you mentally for real-life scenarios, making you more adaptable and less likely to be thrown off by unexpected difficulties.

5. Picture the Finish Line:

End your visualization with a strong, triumphant finish. 

Imagine the elation and pride you feel as you cross the finish line, achieving your goal. 

This positive imagery boosts your motivation and reinforces your belief in your capabilities.

Consider incorporating visualization into your pre-run routine. 

Spend a few minutes each day mentally rehearsing your runs, focusing on different aspects each time. 

For example, one day you might visualize maintaining a steady pace, while another day, you might focus on perfecting your form or conquering a challenging part of your route.

Many elite athletes use visualization to enhance their performance. 

For instance, Olympic sprinters often visualize their races in detail, from the starting block to the finish line, focusing on their speed, form, and the feeling of winning. 

By the time they compete, they’ve already “run” the race numerous times in their minds, which boosts their confidence and preparedness.

Incorporating mental visualization techniques into your training routine can significantly enhance your running performance. 

By regularly practicing detailed, positive mental imagery, you’ll find yourself running faster, with greater confidence and focus. 

So, take a few minutes to visualize your success and watch as your physical performance catches up with your mental rehearsal.

Positive Self-Talk

What you say to yourself matters. 

Replace those negative thoughts like “I can’t keep up” or “I’m too tired” with positive affirmations. 

Tell yourself, “I’ve got this” or “I’m getting stronger with every step.” 

Positive self-talk can make a huge difference in how you feel and perform. 

It helps you push through tough moments and keeps you focused on your goals.

Your inner dialogue, or self-talk, significantly influences your mental state and performance. 

Negative self-talk can undermine your confidence, increase stress, and lead to poor performance. 

On the other hand, positive self-talk can boost your confidence, reduce anxiety, and enhance your overall performance. 

It’s about cultivating a mindset that encourages and supports your efforts rather than one that sabotages them.

Types of Positive Self-Talk

1. Motivational Self-Talk:

Use phrases that pump you up and keep you going, such as “I am strong,” “I can do this,” or “Keep pushing.” 

These statements can help you maintain a positive attitude and high energy levels during your runs.

2. Instructional Self-Talk:

Focus on specific aspects of your performance that need attention. 

For example, you might remind yourself to “Maintain good form,” “Keep a steady pace,” or “Breathe deeply.” 

This type of self-talk helps you stay focused on the technical aspects of running.

3. Affirmative Self-Talk:

Use affirmations to reinforce your strengths and abilities. 

Statements like “I am prepared,” “I am capable,” and “I am improving every day” can bolster your confidence and keep you focused on your progress.

Techniques for Practicing Positive Self-Talk

1. Identify Negative Thoughts:

The first step is to become aware of your negative thoughts. 

Pay attention to the critical or discouraging things you say to yourself. 

Once you recognize these negative patterns, you can begin to challenge and replace them.

2. Reframe Negative Thoughts:

Transform negative statements into positive ones. 

For instance, if you find yourself thinking, “I’ll never be able to keep this pace,” reframe it to “I can maintain this pace, and I’m getting stronger with each step.”

3. Create a Positive Self-Talk Script:

Write down a list of positive affirmations and motivational phrases that resonate with you. 

Keep this list handy and refer to it before and during your runs. 

Over time, these positive statements will become second nature.

4. Practice Daily:

Make positive self-talk a daily habit. 

Start each day with a positive affirmation, and use them throughout your day, not just during your runs. 

This consistent practice helps to rewire your brain towards positivity.

5. Use Visualization:

Combine positive self-talk with visualization techniques. 

As you visualize your runs, include your positive affirmations. 

Imagine yourself running strong and confident, repeating your motivational phrases as you go.

Many elite runners and athletes use positive self-talk to boost their performance. 

For example, marathon runners often repeat mantras like “One step at a time” or “Strong and steady” to maintain focus and motivation during long races. 

By consistently using positive self-talk, these athletes can push through physical and mental barriers and end up running faster.

Mindfulness and Focus

Staying present during your runs is crucial. 

When you’re mindful, you’re fully engaged in the moment, which can significantly improve your performance. 

Practice mindful breathing and pay attention to how your body feels. 

Notice the rhythm of your feet hitting the ground and the flow of your breath. 

This can reduce anxiety and help you maintain a steady pace.

Mindfulness is all about being present and fully engaged in the here and now. 

It involves paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. 

For runners, mindfulness can mean focusing on the experience of running rather than getting lost in distracting thoughts or worries about performance.

Techniques to Practice Mindfulness

1. Mindful Breathing:

Start by focusing on your breath. 

Pay attention to the inhale and exhale, noticing how your breath feels as it moves in and out of your body. 

This simple practice can help center your mind and bring you into the present moment.

2. Body Scanning:

During your run, perform a mental scan of your body from head to toe. 

Notice any areas of tension or discomfort and consciously relax those muscles. 

This technique helps you stay in tune with your body’s needs and can prevent injuries.

3. Sensory Awareness:

Engage your senses to stay present. 

Notice the sound of your feet hitting the ground, the feel of the wind against your skin, the sights around you, and even the smells in the air. 

This sensory awareness keeps your mind anchored in the current experience.

4. Focus on Your Stride:

Pay attention to your running form and stride. 

Concentrate on the mechanics of your movement, ensuring that you maintain good posture and efficient motion. 

This focus not only improves your technique but also keeps your mind engaged.

5. Embrace the Process:

Instead of fixating on the finish line or your final time, focus on the process of running. 

Appreciate each step, the effort you’re putting in, and the progress you’re making. 

This shift in focus can make your runs feel more rewarding.

Practicing mindfulness can be challenging, especially when you’re pushing your limits. 

You might find your mind wandering or get frustrated with distractions. 

The key is to gently bring your focus back to the present moment without judgment. 

Over time, this practice becomes easier and more natural.

Overcoming Mental Blocks

Everyone hits mental blocks at some point. 

Whether it’s a fear of failure or a bad experience from a previous run, these barriers can slow you down. 

The key is to identify these blocks and address them head-on. 

Remind yourself why you started running in the first place and focus on the progress you’ve made. 

Persistence and resilience are your best friends here.

Mental blocks are psychological barriers that prevent you from performing at your best.

They can manifest as self-doubt, fear, anxiety, or negative thoughts. 

These blocks can arise from past experiences, pressure to perform, or even from unrealistic expectations. 

Recognizing and understanding these blocks is the first step towards overcoming them.

Common Mental Blocks in Running

1. Fear of Failure:

Many runners fear not meeting their goals or performing poorly. 

This fear can create significant anxiety and inhibit performance.

2. Negative Past Experiences:

A bad race or an injury can leave lasting psychological scars, making it difficult to push forward.

3. Comparison with Others:

Constantly comparing yourself to faster or more experienced runners can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

4. Performance Anxiety:

The pressure to perform well, especially in competitive settings, can create anxiety that hampers your ability to run your best.

5. Lack of Motivation:

Sometimes, mental fatigue or a lack of motivation can make it hard to stay committed to your training routine.

Techniques to Break Through Mental Barriers

1. Self-Compassion:

Be kind to yourself! 

Understand that everyone faces challenges and setbacks. 

Treat yourself with the same kindness and encouragement you would offer a friend.

2. Journaling:

Keep a running journal to track your thoughts, feelings, and progress. 

Writing down your experiences can help you process emotions and recognize patterns that contribute to mental blocks.

3. Mantras and Affirmations:

Develop personal mantras or affirmations that resonate with you. 

Repeat these positive statements during runs to stay motivated and focused.

4. Incremental Exposure:

Gradually expose yourself to situations that trigger your mental blocks. 

For example, if race anxiety is a problem, participate in smaller, low-pressure races to build your confidence.

5. Embrace the Challenge:

View mental blocks as challenges to overcome rather than insurmountable obstacles. 

Embracing the challenge can shift your mindset from one of fear to one of empowerment.

Many elite athletes have successfully overcome mental blocks. 

For instance, professional marathoners often face intense pressure and fear of failure. 

By employing techniques such as visualization, positive self-talk, and focusing on the process, they can break through these barriers and perform at their best.

Relaxation Techniques

Stress and tension can be major speed killers. 

Incorporate relaxation exercises into your routine to keep calm and focused. 

Simple things like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or even a quick yoga session can do wonders. 

A relaxed body is more efficient and less prone to injury.

Relaxation is critical for optimal performance and when you want to run faster. 

When you’re relaxed, your muscles are more flexible, your mind is clearer, and you can focus better on your running form and pace. 

Stress and tension, on the other hand, can lead to inefficient movements, increased risk of injury, and overall reduced performance.

Techniques to Promote Relaxation

1. Deep Breathing:

Practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing to calm your mind and body. 

Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand, then exhale slowly through your mouth. 

This technique can be particularly useful before and during runs to maintain a steady rhythm and reduce anxiety.

2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR):

PMR involves tensing and then slowly relaxing each muscle group in your body. 

Start with your toes and work your way up to your head. 

This technique helps you become more aware of muscle tension and teaches you how to release it.

3. Yoga and Stretching:

Incorporate yoga or stretching routines into your training plan. 

Yoga poses and stretches not only enhance flexibility but also promote relaxation and mental clarity. 

Poses like Child’s Pose, Downward Dog, and Corpse Pose are particularly effective for relaxation.

4. Mindful Meditation:

Spend a few minutes each day practicing mindful meditation. 

Sit or lie down in a quiet place, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. 

If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breathing. 

This practice can help reduce stress and improve your mental focus during runs.

5. Visualization:

Use visualization as a relaxation technique. 

Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful, serene place. 

This could be a beach, a forest, or any place where you feel relaxed. 

Visualize the sights, sounds, and smells of this place to calm your mind and body.

Building a Support System

Running can be a solitary activity, but having a support system can make a big difference. 

Join a running group or find training partners who share your goals. 

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people provides motivation, accountability, and a wealth of shared knowledge. 

Plus, it’s more fun to celebrate your victories with others!

A strong support system can transform your running experience. 

It provides encouragement during tough times, celebrates your successes, and offers valuable advice and feedback. 

Supportive friends and training partners can help you stay committed to your goals and push you to new heights.

Types of Support Systems

1. Running Groups:

Joining a local running group is a fantastic way to meet other runners. 

These groups often have regular meet-ups, organized runs, and social events. 

Running with a group can provide structure, motivation, and a sense of community.

2. Training Partners:

Having a training partner can make your runs more enjoyable and keep you accountable. 

Choose someone with similar goals and fitness levels. 

Training partners can provide friendly competition, encouragement, and support.

3. Online Communities:

Online forums, social media groups, and running apps can connect you with a global community of runners. 

These platforms allow you to share your experiences, ask for advice, and celebrate achievements with a wider audience.

4. Coaches and Mentors:

Working with a coach or mentor can provide personalized guidance and support. 

Coaches can create tailored training plans, offer technique advice, and help you overcome specific challenges. 

Mentors can share their experiences and provide motivation.

5. Friends and Family:

Don’t underestimate the support of friends and family. 

Even if they’re not runners, they can cheer you on, help with logistics, and celebrate your milestones.

How to Build Your Support System

1. Join Local Running Clubs:

Research local running clubs and groups. 

Attend a few meet-ups to see which group feels like the best fit for you. 

Many clubs welcome runners of all levels, so don’t be intimidated if you’re just starting out.

2. Participate in Races and Events:

Races and running events are great places to meet like-minded people. 

Participate in local races and join post-race activities to connect with other runners.

3. Use Social Media:

Follow running-related hashtags and join running groups on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Strava.

Engage with posts, share your progress, and join virtual challenges.

4. Look for Online Communities:

Join online forums and communities dedicated to running. 

5. Find a Running Coach:

Consider hiring a running coach if you want personalized guidance. 

Look for certified coaches with good reviews and see if they offer group training sessions to meet other runners.

6. Involve Friends and Family:

Invite friends or family members to join you on your runs. 

Even if they don’t run, they can bike alongside you or join you for post-run activities.

Many successful runners attribute their achievements to a strong support system. 

For instance, elite marathoners often train with groups or have a close-knit team of coaches and peers who support them. 

Recreational runners who join clubs or online communities frequently report increased motivation and enjoyment in their running routine.

Tips for Maintaining Your Support System

1. Be an Active Participant:

Engage with your support system regularly. 

Attend group runs, participate in discussions, and be there for others as they support you.

2. Communicate Openly:

Share your goals, challenges, and progress with your support system. 

Open communication fosters trust and strengthens relationships.

3. Offer Support:

Support is a two-way street. 

Be there for others in your group, offer encouragement, and celebrate their successes. 

This creates a positive and supportive environment for everyone.

4. Stay Connected:

Even when you’re not running, stay connected with your support system through social events, online chats, and regular check-ins.

By surrounding yourself with a supportive community, you’ll find greater joy and success in your running journey. 

Remember, running doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. 

Share your experiences, lean on others, and celebrate your victories together for a more rewarding and fulfilling running experience.

Celebrating Progress

Tracking your improvements and celebrating your milestones, no matter how small, is crucial for maintaining motivation and recognizing your hard work. 

Did you run an extra mile this week? 


Hit a new personal best? 


Celebrating these achievements keeps you motivated and reminds you of how far you’ve come. 

It’s a powerful way to stay engaged and enthusiastic about your running journey.

Celebrating progress isn’t just about feeling good in the moment. 

It has long-term benefits for your mental and emotional well-being. 

Recognizing your achievements boosts your self-esteem, reinforces positive behavior, and keeps you motivated to continue improving. 

It’s about acknowledging the effort you’ve put in and giving yourself credit for every step forward.

Ways to Celebrate Progress

1. Keep a Running Journal:

Document your runs, noting distances, times, and how you felt. 

Reflecting on your entries can help you see your progress over time. 

Celebrate by revisiting past entries and acknowledging how far you’ve come.

2. Share Your Achievements:

Share your milestones with friends, family, or your running community. 

Post about your progress on social media or within running groups. 

Positive feedback from others can be incredibly motivating.

3. Reward Yourself:

Set up a reward system for yourself. 

Treat yourself to a new piece of running gear, a relaxing massage, or a favorite meal after reaching a specific milestone. 

Rewards provide tangible incentives to keep pushing forward.

4. Set Up Mini Celebrations:

Celebrate small victories along the way. 

Completed your longest run yet? 

Celebrate with a nice dinner. 

Hit a new personal best? 

Share the news and perhaps have a small get-together with friends.

5. Visualize Your Progress:

Use charts, graphs, or apps to visualize your improvements. 

Seeing a graphical representation of your progress can be incredibly satisfying and motivating.

6. Join a Community Event:

Participate in community runs, races, or charity events to celebrate your progress. 

The camaraderie and sense of achievement in these events can be immensely rewarding.

7. Reflect and Set New Goals:

Take time to reflect on your achievements and set new goals. 

Celebrating progress includes recognizing how far you’ve come and planning for where you want to go next.

Tips for Celebrating Progress

1. Be Consistent:

Make celebrating progress a regular part of your routine. 

Don’t wait for big milestones.

Celebrate small victories regularly!

2. Personalize Your Celebrations:

Choose celebrations that are meaningful to you. 

Whether it’s a quiet moment of reflection or a big night out with friends, make sure it resonates with your personal preferences.

3. Involve Others:

Sharing your achievements with others can amplify the joy. 

Involve friends, family, or your running community in your celebrations.

4. Reflect on Challenges Overcome:

Celebrate not just the achievements, but also the challenges you’ve overcome. 

Reflecting on your resilience and perseverance adds depth to your celebrations.

5. Stay Positive:

Focus on the positive aspects of your progress. 

Even if you didn’t hit every goal, celebrate the effort and improvement you made.

By celebrating your progress, you acknowledge the hard work and dedication you’ve invested in your running journey. 

It’s a way to stay motivated, boost your self-esteem, and enjoy the process. 

So, take the time to recognize and celebrate each milestone, knowing that every step forward is a victory worth acknowledging.


Running faster isn’t just about physical training. It’s about mental preparation and resilience too. 

By setting clear goals, visualizing success, practicing positive self-talk, staying mindful, overcoming mental blocks, relaxing, building a support system, and celebrating progress, you’ll find yourself running faster and enjoying it more.

For more resources and support, consider joining our Success Stories Membership. Here, you’ll access exclusive content designed to help you train smarter and get faster. 

You’ll also be part of a community of like-minded runners who share tips, celebrate successes, and support each other every step of the way. 

Start your journey to faster runs today and see the incredible difference these mental strategies can make.