Athletics Magazine

How To Dig Deep When You Want To Quit

By Brisdon @shutuprun

I’ve got a client, we’ll call her Betty. I am coaching her towards her first marathon. Betty has been running solidly for the past few years, but has never attempted the marathon distance. She is in her 6th week of a 20 week marathon training plan.

Yesterday, Betty sent me this email:

“I have to vent a little  I am so disappointed in myself on today's run. I mentally was not strong today. I set out and was great then my head got inside my brain and all heck broke loose. I was hot, I was stiff. I was this and that. I have been hot and stiff before. But I just could not over power my brain.

I feel so lame. Honestly I sit here writing this and I am like holy cow I was weak! I could have made that run.  But as I was running I seriously talked myself out of running. This has never happened. I have always been able to be stronger and power though it. But today I feel down and weak. Does this sound like I am off my rocker?? “

Off your rocker? No way! My response (by the way, it was 98 degrees here yesterday):

“If you only knew how ‘normal’ and expected this type of run is! First of all, the heat is degrading. It sets you up to want to give up. Secondly, there will be some runs during this training cycle that you will feel this way. Not many, but some. Expect them and don't be hard on yourself about it. If this was happening all of the time, that would be one thing. But, every once in a while is very normal, especially as your mileage increases and it gets hotter outside.

On the flip side, you will also have some runs that are so amazing and energizing, but this will not be every run either. You will be somewhere in the middle on most runs and you will probably find that your mind-set fluctuates a ton throughout your runs, especially the long ones.

Do not beat yourself up. Next time you go out, don't go out with today's run weighing on you. Make your next one fresh and new. I bet it will be much, much better. I actually like that it bothered you so much. I think this shows how much fire and motivation you really have!!

Later, I saw these pop up on Betty’s Facebook page. Spot on!



Betty’s experience got me to thinking about how we can dig deep when all we really want to do is give up. Here are seven ways:

  1. Have a mantra. Like I said above, pick one or two simple and short phrases that motivate you and keep you in the game. It may sound hokey, but when you are desperate, it gives you something to hold on to.
  2. If it’s hot, slow your pace. Nothing is more discouraging than trying to keep a certain pace when you are about to pass out from the heat.
  3. Think back. Remember a time when you were so mentally and physically done that you wanted to quit but kept going. Squeeze your fist as hard as you can. Then squeeze it harder. See? You had more to give than you thought you did.
  4. Remember the big picture. Training can be mundane and boring. Runs can seem routine, almost purposeless. Keep the big goal in mind. Imagine running your marathon or big race. Imagine crossing the finish line. Know that each step of your “mundane and boring” run is getting you closer to that big goal.
  5. Stay present. Don’t think about the fact hat you still have 5, 10 or 15 miles to go. Get to the next corner or stop sign then re-assess how you feel.
  6. Keep perspective. Remember it is not supposed to be easy. If is was, everyone would be doing it. Instead of breaking yourself down with negative thinking, boost yourself up with encouragement. You are out there. You are doing it.
  7. Get bigger than yourself. You are tired, you want to quit. Shift your thinking. Remember that you can run, when many people cannot. Think of Sherry Arnold or Sarah Hart. Think of someone close to you who has trouble even walking. Remember a friend or family member who has passed away. Be grateful and just keep moving forward.

Any other tips on how to keep going when all you want to do is quit?


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