Overcome your rut, build imental strength and get running.

Runners of every ability and athletic level can experience mental blocks that stand in the way of their goals. To overcome these challenges, you have to get out of your own head. Today, we’ve got some solutions for you, which can help you unlock your running potential and bust through the roadblock.

  1. Think Positive

Negative thinking is a runner’s biggest obstacle because it doesn’t allow you to see the possibilities beyond your current state. Running experts also cite that negative thinking can lead to shallow breathing, increased heart rate and tense muscles, three factors that can actually make it physically harder to run. You have the power to stop negative thoughts. During your daily runs, practice awareness. Every time you have a negative thought, shift your headspace toward a positive word or mantra — “I am a runner. I am a runner. I am a runner.”

  1. Keep Your Head Up (Literally)

Running is both mental and physical, and both are apparent when your body would rather be at home on the couch than hitting the pavement — posture is everything. When you are experiencing negative thoughts, your body follows suit and can actually feel like running is harder. But you can snap out of it with a simple physical movement like an arm pump or a power pose. (If you’re not sure what this is, check out this TED Talk by Amy Cuddy). Other ways to avoid giving in to your body’s aches and pains include keeping your head up, eyes forward and posture upright, with your shoulders back and sight set on the finish line.

  1. Use Social Media as Motivation

Social media connects people from all different walks of life and from all of the corners of the world. And it’s not only great for posting photos of your pet, checking into places and updating your friends — it’s an efficient way to find a local support group of like-minded runners. Online running communities provide inspiration, no matter your level or ability, from newbie runners to ultra marathoners.

These social media groups allow users to share photos of their race medals, talk about challenges and difficulties and share tips that have worked (or not worked) for them. Having a team of people to reach out to when you’re doubting yourself or questioning why you run at all can help your confidence and your mental game.

You can find these groups on Twitter, where you can participate in weekly Twitter chats. You can also look for running blogs and race sites, where runners can connect through the commenting function.

  1. Crank up the Tunes

Half the battle is getting to the gym, but even once you are on the treadmill, running a certain pace or mileage can seem impossible. A pair of headphones and a music player is all you need to keep you going. Research shows that listening to music actually reduces a person’s perception of exertion or how hard you feel like you’re working out. Music, audiobooks and podcasts allow you to focus your attention on something other than your body, which can help quiet those negative thoughts and boost your running ability. For more tips on creating the right playlist, read this.

  1. Establish Realistic Goals

Creating a goal seems so simple. However, the anticipation and expectation to meet this goal can lead to a serious mental block if you come up short. If you are fixated on one single outcome that is too large, you may risk disappointment, which will knock you off your running game. Instead of making one huge goal, set smaller goals, such as increasing your mileage little-by-little or improving your speed every week. You can even consider posting a running schedule somewhere in your home that can work as a visual reminder of your goals.

No matter what, remember that having the ability to run is an amazing thing. Try to be grateful, lace up your shoes, get your mind right and put one foot in front of the other.