Close this search box.

How Performance Psychology Can Give You the Mental Toughness to Succeed

Mental toughness is a skill that benefits runners at all levels and distances. Learning how to implement this important skill is more accessible than you think, and the improvement gains from regular practice can be extensive.


While runners have always understood that there is a mental component to training and racing, it’s only in recent years that we have begun to apply this more routinely. Sports psychology and mental training are no longer solely reserved for elite athletes – runners of all levels can benefit from applying these principles.

As we have learned more about the importance of mental training, the question has now become how do we apply it in a way that is practical and effective? Like physical training, mental training takes time, practice and repetition. Finding strategies to incorporate mental training into your daily workouts is essential to maximize the benefits.

Jen Schumacher on performance psychology & mental toughness

This week’s guest on the podcast is an expert in performance psychology and its application to athletes at all levels. Jen Schumacher is currently the mental performance consultant for Northwestern University’s football program. Previously she was the Assistant Director of the Performance Psychology program at West Point Military Academy. She is also a professional speaker and provides training for elite performers in many fields, whether ultra-endurance athletes or Fortune 100 executives.

Our discussion focuses on an introduction to sports psychology, how it applies to endurance sports, and how to create a regular practice that will allow you to reap the benefits. Some of the topics we touch on include:

  • Jen’s background & the goals of the Performance Psychology Program at West Point
  • The best way for endurance runners to get started with performance psychology
  • Common mistakes for athletes using mindset training
  • The best approach to tackling the mental skills we seek as runners
  • How to avoid the comparison trap and turn it into something positive
  • How Jen applied performance psychology to her own ultra-endurance swimming

My conversation with Jen with help make sports psychology more accessible for everyone. The more regularly you can make it a part of your own training, the better the results will be!

Subscribe to the podcast in Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcheriHeartRadio, or Google Play

Links & Resources from the Show:

Thank you Lagoon!

Our newest sponsor is Lagoon, maker of the most comfortable pillow I’ve ever used. And that’s no hyperbole. I’m pleasantly surprised every night I lie down because this pillow is just perfect for me. Since I know that sleep is the #1 recovery tool at my disposal, I’m taking it a lot more seriously.

I took their sleep quiz to find the right pillow for my body size and sleeping position at. It only takes 2 minutes and you’ll find the type of pillow that will work best for you. I’m using the Fox and absolutely loving it. A big reason why is because it’s adjustable.

Since you can add or remove fill to get your alignment right, it’s a great way to optimize the most important way you can become a better runner that isn’t training: sleep. We all know how important sleep is. It’s the best recovery tool that you have at your disposal – better than compression, ice, heat, massage, or anything else you can think of. Sleep is when the magic happens and your sleep quality matters.

Take your rest and recovery to the next level with Lagoon and get 15% off your purchase with code strengthrunning here.

Thank you DrinkLMNT!

A big thanks to DrinkLMNT for their support of this episode! They make electrolyte drinks for athletes and low-carb folks with no sugar, artificial ingredients, or colors. They are offering a free gift with your purchase at DrinkLMNT. And this does NOT have to be your first purchase. You’ll get a sample pack with every flavor so you can try them all before deciding what you like best. 

DrinkLMNT’s products have some of the highest sodium concentrations that you can find. Anybody who runs a lot knows that sodium, as well as other electrolytes like magnesium and potassium, are essential to our performance and how we feel throughout the day.

My favorite flavor is watermelon salt, but citrus salt is also a banger. I’m drinking one a day now to help me get enough fluids in our dry Colorado air. It’s tasty and delicious and I find that I’m not peeing every 45 minutes throughout the day, which might be an indication I wasn’t eating enough sodium.

There’s now mounting evidence that higher sodium intake levels are not unhealthy – and athletes need substantially more than your typical sedentary person. Of course, ask your doctor if you’re worried. But for those athletes running outside in the heat, an electrolyte replacement makes a lot of sense. So check out DrinkLMNT to try their new flavor or get a free sampler pack.

Build Your Mindset Skills

Join our free course to help you build mental fitness and confidence!