Three weeks I had a bad run. And when I say bad, I mean epically bad. I set out to do 20 miles, but when I started I knew it was going to be a rough day. By the 11-mile mark I was hurting and at 17 I finally gave up. I came home frustrated, disappointed and disheartened. I was questioning my mental toughness, my physical well-being, and my ability to make it through the 26.2 miles of my upcoming marathon. I spent the rest of the afternoon regretting my decision to stop running and hating myself for being so weak.

But I lived to run another day. The following Monday I was back out there and had a great run. Fast, easy and pain-free.

So then I started thinking about it. Why was I beating myself up for one bad day? Instead of being happy that I had made it this far into the training without having any major issues, I was focused on a single rough day.

We’ve all heard that running is a mental game. This time of year that is especially true. In the final stretch before a big race it is normal to feel tired and sore and not want to run any more. That’s when you really need to remember why you set out on this journey and celebrate every little victory.

Find something to celebrate each time you go out. I know that it’s not always easy, so here is a handy list you can draw on when you need it.

  1. You’re out there
  2. It’s a beautiful day for a run
  3. You got to spend time with friends
  4. You met some great, new people on the run
  5. You look great in your running gear
  6. You ran further than ever before
  7. The distance felt better than the last time you did it
  8. You ran a new PR
  9. You ran your fastest mile ever
  10. You helped someone through a rough day
  11. You finished strong
  12. You can check another run off your plan
  13. You’re one day closer to race day
  14. You didn’t get lost
  15. No matter what, you are a bad ass
  16. Your coffee will taste soooooo good
  17. You got a jump on the day while everyone else was sleeping
  18. LUNCH!

We all started running for different reasons. But those of us who stuck with it do it because we love it. When you are tired and frustrated and doubting yourself, remember what you love about running and it will get you through even the toughest times.

Peace, love, run!