5 Ways to Push Yourself While Running (especially when you are tired)

We get endorphins and a boost of self-confidence after any run we do (unless it was a REALLY miserable run) but nothing beats those workouts or races where we know that we truly pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones.  The only problem is that we get tired and tell ourselves we want to quit so here are some ways to really push ourselves!

5 things I do when I want to go FASTER (especially when I am tired) with random pictures of me and Billy thrown in:

1. Pump my arms harder and faster.  Now I am not saying to do this at mile 3 of a marathon because you would waste a lot of energy doing that but maybe try this towards the end of a race when you want to give a good kick or at a time when your legs are exhausted but you still want to go faster.  This is something I had my Cross Country kids do all of the time and they couldn’t believe how well it worked.  When I pump my arms faster and focus on my arms, my legs just naturally speed up too no matter how tired they are.

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2.  Remind myself that our minds give up way faster than our bodies.  Mentally we quit long before our bodies will.  It is built into us for survival so that we don’t ever reach the point that we actually run too fast or too far but that signal is sent to our brains WAY before we would ever need to worry about actually dying from running.  Tell yourself it is just your brain and that your body has so much more to give.

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3.  Mini-goals.  This is one of my favorites because when I break things up into small steps my main goal seems so much easier to accomplish.  Tell yourself you will run faster until the next stoplight or for the next mile and then when you reach your mini-goal re-evaluate how you feel and slow down if you have to.  Chances are when you get to that mini-goal you will realize you are one step closer to your big goal, you survived and that you CAN do it again.

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4.  This one has a bunch of little things all combined but it always helps me.  Put on a FAST song (try to match your cadence to the beat of the song), repeat your favorite mantra (for me: pain is temporary, quitting is forever) and go on autopilot.  For some people they have to stay focused if they want to keep a certain pace but at some points for me during a race it is better for me to zone out and just think of my mantra and keeping up with the song I am listening to and to forget times/splits etc.

5.  Pick another racer in front of you, tie a rope around them and pull yourself up to them.  Don’t actually use a rope but just do it in your mind.  It is crazy how well this works for me.  Mentally visualizing myself pulling along the rope to get closer and closer to that person ahead of me gets me there physically.  Once you’ve passed them, do it again to someone new.

Utah Valley Marathon 9

(He had no idea that I had tied a rope around him.  ps we did not plan on matching our orange shoes and white socks, I have no idea who he is)

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What do you do when you want to go faster when you are tired?

How often do you listen to music when you run?

-When I am running with friends I don’t listen to it but I ALWAYS do during races or hard workouts.

Do you ever do any visualizations when you run?

Have you ever worn compression sleeves or socks during a race?

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73 comments

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i always give myself mini goals when i’m running…i use the stoplight/stop sign/next block all the time when i’m trying to either go faster or just finish a run without walking. oh and another tip i use? visualize the food you’re going to inhale when you’re done with the race. plan what you’re going to make or order as soon as you cross the finish line. i find cookies to be particularly motivational :) i’ll absolutely fly for an oatmeal raisin or peanut butter cookie.

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Mini goals really are the best! Oh girl… I forgot about that visualization, that is the best one ever. Okay, now you are making me NEED an oatmeal raisin cookie right this second ha.

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I always use the rope visual when I am running up a hill, it can really make it feel like you are being pulled! I’ve never thought to use it for people, I can’t wait to try it!

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I should totally try it on a hill, I have never thought of that. Thanks so much Mallory, I really appreciate it.

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Ahhhh what a perfect post for today! I was on a run this morning and I felt like I wanted to die (exaggeration), and I had read a previous post of yours that said “your mind gives up way before your body”….so I kept repeating it to myself and actually ended up getting a killer run time :) I also like to zone out and think about anything else.

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OH GIRL!! I am so beyond happy that that little saying helped you out on your run today! Way to power through it, that is what makes us STRONGER!

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Great tips! I use one similar to the rope one. In my last half marathon, I visualized a rope on a pulley system that I pictured my friends and family at the finish line reeling me in. It came in very handy at all the hills throughout the race as I could trick my mind into thinking that yeah I was running, but I’m getting reeled in (sort of like a fish ;) – so others were using their energy to help me in an imaginary way! It also helps knowing that your family / friends are reeling you in on that pulley system & wanting to see you do you run faster!
Hope that makes sense! It does in my crazy mind!

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Oh my goodness…. I really love your rope on a pulley system to your family at the finish line visualization. I am TOTALLY steeling that one from you! I like your crazy mind!

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I tend to do mini-goals which works pretty well for me. I wore sleeves during my last marathon and usually do for my long runs. And I listen to music about 90% of the time. A great song to get me really pumped is Floors on Fire…my friend who taught spin used to play it at the end of class..it was the hardest routine but also my favorite.

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I love this!! I definitely set mini goals especially at towards the end of long runs. I always listen to music when I’m working or running a race by myself. If I’m with friends, I enjoy talking to them instead of listening to music. :)

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I use mailboxes in our neighborhood as mini-goals, then I keep telling myself to make it to the next one. It works because its such a short distance and makes near impossible to give-up and stop.

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I always listen to music when I’m by myself, and during races! When I’m with others (which is rare since I have very few running friends-boo) I definitely don’t listen to music. I set mini goals often- getting to the next stop light etc. I also think up blog posts, recipes, what I’m craving and other things! I try to keep my mind as distracted as possible because I agree, our minds give up way quicker than our bodies!

P.S. I really needed this post since my run was HORRIBLE THIS MORNING!

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i like the rope idea

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“Roping in” the person in front of me always helps me at the end of a race, espcially if it’s a girl who looks like she’s in my age group becuase my competitiveness wanting to place in my age group kicks in!

I used to run with music until I ran a 15k with bands at every mile, and I havent looked back since!

I’ve never run in compression socks, but after a hot long run they are a leg saver!

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I totally needed this post. Thank you so much! Lots of helpful strategies here that I’ll be using in my runs.
As for music, I used to think I would die without my iPod on a run but for the last 3 months or so I’ve been running without it on all my runs outside and I can’t believe how much I love it. It’s so peaceful. I still watch movies on my computer if I’m on my treadmill though.

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Great tips, I hope I can remember them during my next race. In my last marathon I can see my split times speed up once I turned on my music. The problem is I waited until mile 17 to do it when it could have helped me earlier. I use my music as an incentive and tell myself after the half way point I can turn it on, but this past race I kept holding out, one more mile then I’ll turn it on. Guess I should have done it sooner!

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My mantra is: “I can do it!” And I just put it on repeat. I like the rope thing, but I might just actually grab a rope to attach to that person in front. It’d be good resistance training for them ;)

I also do the mini-goals thing too and you’re totally right – once you reach that mini-goal, so much easier to get to the next one!!

I always listen to my iPod…unless I forgot it or it was uncharged…like my run on July 1st. Luckily I had my uncle to run the first little bit with me, but then I just really focused on enjoying a music-less run…and it was actually a nice change!

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I ran a 15k this morning and when I started to get tired (I had a crazy busy week and haven’t recovered yet – my whole body was just tired today!) I just kept thinking about what you said in a post a few days ago – that your body is stronger and can keep going longer than you think it is/can – it helped a TON! I ended up second in my age group :-)
I want to go sign up for a race right now so that I can try your rope trick too!
I always listen to music during a race or if I’m running by myself, otherwise I talk to my buddies :-)

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I like visualizing a warm cup of coffee after the run while enjoying my breakfast.I’m a morning runner so it helps to tell myself relaxing afterwards is within grasp and the faster I finish the sooner I will be sitting with my favorite drink and food. I do like music on long runs as it helps distract my mind from any negative talk it wants to tell my body! Just starting wearing the leg sleeves during long runs or after to help mine recover…..:)

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That is just what I needed to hear today. I have been so frustrated because I KNOW I can run faster than I have been this summer. After my last race I nearly decided to quit racing all together. It’s not that I have to win but I set certain goals for myself and when I never meet those goals it gets super frustrating. I will certainly try all of your little tricks and hope that something clicks for me :)

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My track coach taught me the arm pump years ago. It is amazing how it works, especially on hills.
I hardly ever listen to music since it isn’t aloud in triathlon but I sometimes when I need a little boost or motivation to get out the door. It’s a treat.
I love my compression sleeves for longer distance triathlons. It works some good magic on the bike to run.
Great post.

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Thank you for this post!! Self motivation is always a problem for me and I hope some of these tips work for me. I am always one to “save up” my energy when I’m running – but what for? I have never run more than 12 miles and let’s be real, my life is not very strenuous otherwise, so I don’t know why I do it.

I listen to music on the treadmill because watching the wall bounce up and down in front of me is really boring and annoying so I listen to music to take my mind off it :)

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I think you mentioned that you’ve always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and plan to do that when your little girl is born, which is totally cool. But, will you please consider coaching track or cc when your baby get older? You’re just too much of a gem and positive influence (and great running resource) on youth–and young adults like me–to not work with kids in some capacity. I don’t even know you personally and reading your blog is always a bright spot in my day, I can’t imagine how great you are for the people who are lucky enough to have you in their lives!

In any case, thanks for the great tips. I’m going to try the rope one on my next run. Like one of your other readers, I repeat mantras to myself. Usually “Look at how far you’ve come!” or “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten” or “If you run faster now, you’ll finish sooner!” or “You can do it!” (said to myself in Bela Karoly’s accent….like how he said it to Kerri Strug before her famous olympic vault in ’96) usually get me through the tough spots when I want to go faster. (How’s that for one doozy of a run-on sentence?)

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This post was exactly what I needed to read today! I’ve taken a few days off from running, and will be hitting the road again tomorrow. I reached a point where I was burnt out, and am in need of some extra motivation!

I don’t really run with music anymore (unless I’m running on the treadmill), but I may have to take my iPod out tomorrow, just to try Tip #4! When I run with my husband he always encourages me to pick up “road kills”, aka runners I pass on the way to the finish.

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What a great term…road kills! I love trying to catch the people in front of me. It is super motivating!

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Aleays race in compression socks. They make mE “feel” faster!!! Always run with music on long runs and rAces keeps me focused!!! I notice when I het tired I start pumping my arms hard too without even realizing it!!!! Great adobe love it!! I always try to find. A pacer I don’t know and stick to them like glue!!!

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Thanks so much for these great tips! I listen to music when I race, and I have special playlists of songs that really get me going that I don’t listen to otherwise so I don’t get sick of them. I also listen to music on the treadmill, but I have a separate playlist of songs for treadmill/gym workouts.

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If I am on a run and my legs just feel totally awful, it sometimes helps to pick up the pace to steady or faster for a minute or two, then slow back down to whatever pace I run my easy run at. shakes the legs out a bit

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When I train I listen to music. I have never one a race where thy allow music. I can’t believe u always race with music.
Love my compression sleeves. Great for cramping.

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If I run with people I don’t listen to music. Running races and solo I do.

Compression socks saved my calves and shins!
I always pick out a feloow racer to focus on during the race.

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Mini goals got me through my marathon. I took the last 7 miles one mile at a time which made it totally manageable!

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These tips are great, and I love #5!

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This may sound weird but because I am part of the Wear Blue: Run to Remember organization, each run I do is to honor a specific member of the American military who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I just talk to them. I ask them to lend me some of their dedication and physical fitness. And when I get really hard I just keep talking to them, we have our own conversations. Morbid to some but it really works.

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I love your blog! Just tought I would let you know that you inspire me to run!!

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I like this post a lot!
I use mini goals a lot, or rewards! If you push hard for the last x minutes, you can have extra dessert, etc!
The only time I use music when I workout is when I run on the treadmill. Otherwise, I love just getting out there and having a quiet mind.

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Those were really great! Some I never thought of (like the rope pulling). I’ve always known about pumping your arms…if they are slow, you are slow; of they are fast, you are fast. Kind of goes with one of my favorite sayings: “fake it till you make it.” As in it might look like I’m going fast and feeling good because my arms are pumping so fast but really….I’m dying! haha

I can’t wait to see you raise your daughter through your blog, you are so thoughtful, cheery, and a wonderful teacher. I’m sure you’ll be an amazing Mom!

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I needed this! I have been in a horrible run rut for the past month! I think that after reading this, I will have a better week this week! Thank you!

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loved this post. i needed this advice, because sometimes i do quit too soon. gotta keep remembering that it’s all in my mind! thanks janae!

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Hi Janae–I just found your blog and i love it! Usually when I want to run faster, I try to pump myself up with good music to get me moving…I love the mini goals idea too. I try not to run with music all the time, because I really know how to kill songs that I like too quickly by listening to them over and over again, ha! I sometimes listen to audiobooks on long runs where I’m just taking it easy!

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Boy did I need this post today! I’ve been suffering from mental weakness the past two weeks and it’s been totally bumming me out…like wanting to stop running on the first of five hill repeats because it hurt. Of course it’s going to hurt…but my brain felt so weak and reaaallly wanted to stop. Thankfully I pushed through and did all five, but I was so disappointed in myself later. The mental aspect of running is so much stronger than I ever thought. Thanks for posting so many great tips on dealing with this aspect of the sport.

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These are really awesome tips! (I love the rope one, can I have a real rope please? hehe) And I think it’s really helpful to remember that our mind gets tired before our body really does!!

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I have my CEP compression socks for longer runs (or after a hard run, if I need to work). I usually use music and just keep hitting “skip” in the iPod until the perfect butt-kicking tune comes on for me to get into gear. Otherwise, I just try to tell myself “This only sucks right now. You’ll be fine once you’re done.” :-D

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I totally do the minigoals too!!

I also like the mantra “i dare you to quit” and that gives me a kick to keep going. Making it a DARE or CHALLENGE somehow keeps me going.

I also try to not let 1 negative thought creep into my head.

Oh man, I use my ipod pretty much on every run — which I DON’T WANT TO! I swear I have add and think that I can’t run without it.

In high school I didn’t have a mp3 or ipod or anything and used to just run around a lake by my house. . .I did so much soul searching, good ideas came to me, solutions to problems, I was really mindful.

Bleh – technology — it’s a blessing and a curse!

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I always pick out someone who annoys me during a race. Not that I hate them or anything, but they are the person who falls behind, catches up and passes, then does it over and over again. I finally get sick of seeing them and speed up to get away from them! Oh–did I mention that this is me during a race? Yep. My bad.

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I absolutely use mini-goals on hot/miserable runs.

And in races… there’s no rope. For me it’s just all ego. I will NOT let that person finish before me. I will NOT let that person finish before me! (Then again, maybe that falls in the mantra category?) ;-)

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I loved this…I wish I’d read it earlier as I started fading towards the end of my 12 miler today and the arm pump could have helped. I read about lifting my knees this week and tried that, and it did help me actually….but I’m def going to try the arm pump and the rope!!!

I generally listen to music for long runs but today I ran without music because I wanted to hear what I sounded like when I ran. It wasn’t pretty!!!! But I felt tough.

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Have you ever listened to radiolab on NPR? There was a great broadcast a few years back called limits, and this post reminded me of it. You should listen to it. You can do so here: http://www.radiolab.org/2010/apr/05/

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Great tips Janae! I was totally doing the arms trick in my triathlon this weekend. It really does work, but the rope one I really like. I will be getting my lasso out from now on:)

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I absolutely love all your tips, especially about mini goals! Breaking up the whole distance makes it seem all the more doable and it’s actually what helped me with my run this morning..was SO not feelin’ it but yet killed it by the end of it! I also remind myself that the faster I run, the sooner it will be over- definitely effective ha!

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Thanks for the tips! I have recently started running and I really enjoy it, but it is tough to push through sometimes – so I will give some of these a go :)

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I gave up listening to music a few months ago and haven’t looked back since! There is just something about running in silence to the sound of your breathing and footsteps (and noisy passing cars haha) that I love! Not to mention, no more fumbling with annoying headphones. I totally understand the need for music though – sometimes an awesome song can do wonders!

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I’ve never tried the rope tricks, but I’m right there with you on the rest of them!

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I am going to pass this note along to my brother. He just started couch to 5K and quit smoking this week. He is so brave, I am so proud, but I know this is SO hard for him. I love the mantra that your mind quits before your body needs to. He needs to use that one!!

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I used the mini-goal method for my goal spring marathon! I split up the race into sections – first 5 miles = warm up, then the next three sections-phases 1,2, and 3 were each five miles, then the last 10K. It was super helpful to give me something smaller to concentrate on instead of all of the 26.2 miles together. Once I got to mile 20 I felt like I was ready to start over new and got a boost of energy for the last 10k!

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This is great!

Ok and I love how you clarify that people should not use a REAL rope on someone in front of them haha.

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I start to repeat to myself – “It doesn’t get easier – you get better” and become inspired by myself getting better. It ALWAYS gets my through.

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I pick a runner ahead of me as my rabbit and I’m the greyhound running to catch them. When I do, and can pass them and maintain my pace, I pick another rabbit and so forth. It definetly helps me out. Music helps motivate me too. I find I pick up my pace with the high tempo songs and slow down a little to the softer songs. And when my brain starts questioning me for putting myself through another race or laughs at me for even considering training for a 1/2, I tell it to “stfu” and pump up the volume of my music, while telling myself I am stronger than I think I am.

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I read this post in bed last night, and then I thought about it on my run this morning! I roped several people and gained some speed. :)

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This is such a great idea. I’m going to be busting my butt at a half marathon this weekend and have been working towards a fairly ambitious PR. The temps are set to be warm and I always let myself get mentally defeated from the heat before my body. I think these tips will help out! Thanks so much for posting!

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Thank you so much for sharing, Janae. I will put these helpful hints to use the next time I need motivation on the run. I enjoy reading your blog so much, you are truly an inspiration to everyone!! Your love for running even 35 weeks pregnant motivates me!! I hope i’m able to be so active when I have a baby!!

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Love your blogs, put your rope advice to use today and found it very helpful, great tips. Thanks! X

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I am so so happy that helped you out! Have an amazing day!

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When I’m running alone or at races I always listen to music. If I am with friends I don’t.

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What a fabulous post! I mean seriously… this is amazing! I push myself with the simple reminder that it is MIND OVER MATTER. I truly believe that running is more mental, than physical. I love that you reiterate this. If I want to push through a few extra miles in training, I can and I will. I almost pull myself out of my body and JUST DO IT.

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I use the “rope” trick too, especially during races. I make it my goal to pass someone, then pick another person once I pass them. It’s a good mental game to keep me focused!

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This is the most constructive advice I’ve ever found to keep that running inertia going. Thank you!!! -just a random person

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allo

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I am new to XC the year (I’m 14) and I have been having a hard time because I sike myself out, saying “oh your slowing her down” or “you can’t do this”. But I find that visualizing someone chasing you is helpful. Lik an axe murderer or something, just pick someone behind you and get into it, or run like you stole something,

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These post are so amazing you guys don’t evn know!
I’m in the Airfore Reserve and even in basic runnning has been a challenge for me.
I failed my first PT test since basic training :( and I have my retest tomorrow.
My mistake was only running on the tredmill instead of running on the track UGH!! But I’ve prayed on it and god will run this race with me! Thank you ladies for these awesome tips I’m going to use every one of them. Pray for me I’ll let you know how I do

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Great advice, and thanks for sharing it. I need every tool I can find to get me running faster and longer, your ideas will be comforting on my way to improvement.

CPT Appreciative

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There is a creepy cob house that is used for storage and houses a
big tom cat, and the attic holds many interesting items from Grandma’s
past. Wedding dresses are made out of a variety of materials.
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, September 14, 2002.

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Haunted house confirmed.

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Tomorrow I’ve gotta run 5 laps around the school for gym, and I have the hardest gym teacher on earth. I’m feeling pretty nervous, hope these tips work and wish me luck ;)

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