When training for a long distance run like a 10K, we will often log numerous miles, run intervals and partake in cross training, all with the end goal of getting physically fitter to help us run faster. However, the mental side of running is just as important as the physical side of training when it comes to keeping your body moving to get you over the finish line.

Take it step by step

Changing your mindset to improve your race time all starts with the physical side of training. Running smaller distances at the start of your training is a great way to build up your confidence, which in turn increases your mental resilience.

If you try to do too much too soon, you will run yourself into the ground, which is not great for your future training sessions or your progression and improvement as a runner.

First, condition your mind to know that you can run a 10K in your goal race time. Then simply continue to train your mind and body towards that time. By keeping making these small steps in your mind and of course in your training, you’ll soon consider be able to run a raster 10K time without having to take a huge leap of faith.

If you are looking to set a new personal best (PB), you should already have experience of running a 10K and your mindset should compliment a strong training plan that focuses on speeding up your pace in order for you to set a new PB.

If complete the race is your only goal, then you should focus on running the 10K at a pace you are comfortable with and taking breaks when required to allow you to cross the finish line.

Switch your measurement system

One of the easiest ways to change your mindset to improve your race time, is to switch the units by which you measure your runs.

Try measuring your runs by kilometers if you use miles, or by miles if you use kilometers. Obviously you’ll need to do some converting, but when you’re thinking about the difficulty or magnitude of hitting your next interval run or race split time, your reference point will be entirely different.

If you use the imperial system, attempting to run a 3 minute kilometer might seem easier than a 6 minute mile because your perception of the difficulty of running a 3 minute kilometer has yet to be created in your mind. 

Find a faster running group

Another simple strategy to help improve your mindset about what you think is fast, is to look for training groups that are above your ability level as surrounding yourself with faster runners in your area will help transform your perceptions of paces and race times.

If you’re trying to run a sub 1 hour 10K for the first time, surrounding yourself with 45 minute 10K runners will make your goal race time seem far less intimidating. This strategy is one of the main reasons elite runners join running groups. 

Whatever your strategy, be mindful of the negative paralysis that can take hold when you become intimidated by your goal race time. It's important to not let your mental perceptions prevent you from taking that next step in your racing. Positively transform your mindset and you’ll gain more confidence in your training with each step you take in the progression to your goal race time.