By: Kim Miller & Miller

While running is often attributed to being a physical sport, many agree that it’s even more mentally demanding. Establishing a mindset to power you through ultra races and training is essential for success.
When you challenge yourself to push harder than before, you are more inclined to hit a breaking point. It’s at that moment that attitude makes the difference. You’re ability to push past the obstacles that you are up against and move forward is a major determinant of your success. Joe DeSena, ultra marathon runner, co-founder of the Spartan Race and author of SPARTAN UP: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life, believes that attitude can be taught. He’s seen countless people succeed by watching them challenge themselves on a continual basis. “The way to improve your attitude is to push through adversity. Once you have seen the dark side, you push through until that dark phase comes to an end, and everything after that appears brighter and more hopeful,” said DeSena.
What are the strategies one employs to create the proper mindset for ultra running success? Below are four tips to help you along your journey.
1. Remember it’s not always easy
People don’t enroll in races because they are easy. They expect to be challenged. Go into the race knowing it will be difficult but believing you will be successful, DeSena recommends. Racing is a metaphor for life. You will hit many obstacles over time but you have to work to move through them. With persistence and dedication you, will overcome them.
2. Enact positive self-talk 
Create phrases and statements that empower you to believe in yourself. Scottsdale-based ultra-marathon runner and mother of two Lisa Kravetz believes that ultra running requires a tremendous amount of positive self-talk. “It’s all mental,” she said. Kravetz quickly learned a few years back when she took up ultra running that runners often find themselves alone with their thoughts out on the trails. With miles and miles ahead of them, they have to develop a mindset for success. There is no room for fear or negativity.
3. Visualize small victories
The best way to approach racing and training is in small steps. When you consider the overall goal of completing races longer than 50K (and often much farther) it’s overwhelming for many. Rather than thinking of the race in its entirety, imagine small milestones. While running, only think about the next few miles. Breaking things into stages makes them more manageable.
4. Maintain passion
Nearly all runners have hit a point where they feel like they lack motivation. In these times, it’s important that you make small changes. Seek out new resources, train with a different group, explore courses you have never run and surround yourself with positive energy. Despite their skill, the most seasoned ultra runners typically feel as if they have not yet arrived. They are on a constant quest to fulfill their infinite potential. MS&F

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