Self-talk for running

Photograph by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

One of the techniques from sports psychology consists in using self-talk to predispose us to perform better. It is normal from time to time for negative phrases to arise when we are tired, or when we feel pressure. Long distance runners, for instance, use different sentences or keywords to manage their negative self-dialogue and favor better performance at different stages of the race:

• At the beginning they use phrases to motivate themselves not to go too fast, to be able to save energy for the rest of the race and strengthen their confidence.

• During the middle of the race their self-dialogue communicates an encouragement to move forward and stay focused.

• Finally, for the last kilometers they use keywords to control their intensity and give their maximum effort.

The phrases you could use are very personal so it is more effective to choose the ones that really make you feel comfortable. You can also try different ways to formulate the sentences. Many athletes use the second person to distance themselves from the situation and have more clarity, for example: ‘you can’, although others prefer the first person, e.g., ‘I can’. There are even runners who prefer to mentally sing a song to maintain a specific rhythm or to manage distractions.

In the following table I show examples of phrases for the different stages of the race:

Before the raceBeginningMiddle EndAfter the race
I am readySteady You are going really goodLight and fastYou have done really well
I am going to make itCalmI love runningPower legs Well done runner
I have done all the training so that is why I know I am capable  Keep smilingI love running up the hillsSteady steps You’ve made it!
 Come on one more kilometer You are going as fast as the wind  
  Keep the rhythm Just a little bit more 
  Come on, keep runningLast bit to go 
  PostureYou can do it