Pessimism is a Runner’s Top Mental Roadblock (Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake)

This post is for one of my bestie’s Cheryl.  First, today is her birthday!  And the recipe is for the cake I made her when I saw her last week in Indianapolis!  She promptly smeared the “30” off the cake as soon as I gave it to her.  Remember, she is the one that I had those “Holy Cow!  Cheryl is 30!” buttons made for?

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Second, when I ran the Homecoming 5K with her in Blacksburg, she asked me how to run farther without stopping.  I told her that her legs could handle the miles (they say your legs can run 3 times the farthest distance that you have ever run), it was her mind telling her she couldn’t.  So, she asked how to change the outlook of her mind.  I gave her a couple of pointers during the race, but then I read an article in Runners World that was meant for her.  Here is a summary.

Pessimism is a runner’s top mental roadblock.  Science has confirmed that performance at the end of an endurance event has as much to do with psychology as physiology.  Many runners are able to overcome pessimism by using visualization (I tried this with Cheryl–I told her to picture the Macado’s sandwich we would be eating after the race.  She told me thinking about that made her want to hurl.) and mantras (example: Yes, you can! OR Just keep swimming!).

Basically,  you need to train the brain like you train the body.  You must practice mental skills throughout training not just mid-race, and this type of training is very individualized.  First, you must set a performance goal–do you want to PR?  Do you not want to walk mid-race?  Then you need to identify your weaknesses and set measurable goals such as practicing five minutes of visualization daily if you struggle seeing yourself succeed or follow a training program if you tend to skip workouts.

Next you need to select a word, phrase or action that keeps you in the moment and helps you push any negative thoughts to the back of your mind.  For instance, you can listen to your footfalls and concentrate on your cadence.  The hardest part will be to then train your brain as you train your body and practice, practice, practice!  Some people choose to “keep score” or score workouts and rate them as a win or loss.  This will show that you can have a lousy run (a loss) and still have a strong training week (one with lots of wins).  Gauging your workouts helps you focus on your training as whole rather than on individual workouts.

Furthermore, reframing your mindset is key.  Here is a specific quote from the article:

Trainer: “In a race, what do you think when you hit 7:45 minute miles?”

Athlete: “I worry that I will die.”

Trainer: “8:15s?”

Athlete: “I doubt I’ll reach my goal.”

Trainer: “Notice they’re both negative?  Why not look at numbers as feedback?  7:45–oh, I’m on today.  I better pull back a bit.  8:15–good.  Just a little more.”

When you look for the positive in a situation, information becomes useful.

Fatigue is highly subjective.  Research shows that the mind can override the body, and that fatigue is often a product of perception rather than true physiological depletion.  So, work on your mental toughness.  It will take practice, but it is totally worth it.


In terms of my running this week, I ran a total of 32.5 miles!  I did back-to-back 8-milers Saturday and Sunday!!  Heck yes!  And my pace was sub-8:30s both days!  And it was crazy windy!

And because Halloween is coming up, here are some precious pictures of my pups with the pumpkin tree near where I live.  I just love these girls and the fun things that Middleton/Madison does around the holidays!

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Also, have I mentioned that my merlie girlie loves pillows???  And look at that ear!

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Here is the recipe for the easiest most tasty chocolate cake you will ever find.  I know, I know–I rarely make anything from a box, but this one is an exception because it is soooo good.  And, don’t worry, I will post the recipe for the delicious Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting soon!  I hope you had a good weekend!

Chocolate Mayonaise Cake

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake


– 1 box Devil Food Cake mix

– 3 eggs

– 1 cup water

– 1 cup mayonnaise


– Mix all the ingredients together and bake according to box directions.

– Frost as desired!

This entry was posted in Callie!, Envy, Recipes, Stretch & Strengthen. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pessimism is a Runner’s Top Mental Roadblock (Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake)

  1. Becca says:

    Great post! I needed a good reminder about the importance of mental training 🙂

  2. Pingback: Insanity Class is Crazy with Katie (Recipe: Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting) | Oven Lovin' Runnin'

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