How to Build Real-World Mental Toughness (a behind the scenes coaching call)

Training your brain to handle the difficult moments in workouts and races is an essential skill for runners. If you’re new to mental toughness training, this coaching call will help you learn the practical ways to develop and implement these techniques.

Although recreational runners should never try to duplicate the exact training plans of elite runners, we can learn a lot from their habits and techniques. In recent years, elite athletes have worked on developing their mental game to help get the most from themselves in competition.

Mental toughness for runners is a skill that has to be developed just like any other. It takes time to practice and implement techniques so you can refine them and use them in a way that best suits your needs as a runner.

Joining me today on this coaching call edition of the podcast is Patrick, a member of our Team Strength Running coaching program. Patrick began running a decade ago to improve his health, and discovered his love for the marathon.  

Patrick is a 3:39 marathoner who wants to improve his mental toughness along with his race times.  As he explains, Patrick wants to improve the disconnect between body and mind that slows us down in the painful, late stages of a race where we all struggle.

Mental Toughness for Racing Starts with Your Workouts

Even though the focus of this podcast is mental training, it is inseparable from your physical preparation. Neither can be done in a vacuum. As you’ll see throughout our discussion, mental toughness for racing starts by developing that same mental tenacity in training.

If you’re looking to become a more self-assured runner when you step up to the starting line, you have to start with a training plan that challenges you in a way that develops confidence. Training your brain requires practice, and skills have to be developed and refined over time.

Patrick and I discuss the way changes in his training can improve his mental strength, along with techniques to further bolster that mental toughness. Some of these include:

  • Finding ways to get out of your comfort zone on a regular basis
  • Racing shorter distances more regularly to improve marathon confidence
  • Incorporating mantras for running
  • Practicing using vivid mental imagery to prepare for the tough patches of a race.

Patrick’s openness about his successes and failures in training allow us to have an honest discussion about how to step up his mental and physical game.  No matter where you’re at in your training journey, you’re bound to learn valuable mental techniques to improve your running and racing.

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Thank You InsideTracker!


This episode is brought to you by InsideTracker, one of the most reputable blood testing companies in the world. They were founded in 2009 by aging, genetics, and biometrics scientists to help you analyze your body’s data and get a firm idea of how well you’re responding to training.

Understanding your body’s biomarkers, from stress hormones to testosterone to Vitamin D, can help you figure out if you’re over-training, under-training, optimally training, or if you have a health issue that might be affecting your running. But the best part is that they give you personalized optimal ranges for each of these biomarkers and a host of ways to improve these markers through diet, lifestyle, or exercise changes.

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