Obsessive Runner How to be mentally tough for a tough race day

How to be mentally tough for a tough race day


Sometimes race day brings about some tough weather that is less than ideal. Whether it’s a rainstorm or strong winds, some of us might be tempted to opt out of the race altogether. But us runners are a tough bunch as we’ve persisted to run mile after mile and have grown our mental ability to push through our limits.

I remember one race where I pulled up into the parking lot and it was absolutely pouring rain. I could not see ten feet in front of me let alone seeing myself even starting the race if the race would start at all. I made the choice to run that day and it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made – more on that at the end.

So when you have a tough race day ahead of you, you need to prepare your mind just as much as you’ve prepared your body. The good news is that mental toughness is a choice, and it’s your choice to run the race you want to despite the elements. Here are some reminders on how you can stay mentally tough for a tough race day:

  • Roll with the weather
    Don’t go about checking the weather forecast over and over again hoping that it’ll change. I know I’ve checked many different sources for forecasts hoping quite literally for a ray of sunshine. You need to reframe your mind to embrace what the weather conditions will bring to your run. Just think, if it’s raining, your shoes will go through a terrific wash and be clean for your next run.
  • Respond to the conditions
    You’ll need to adapt how you run through the conditions – from scanning ahead to avoid large puddles of water, to avoiding sewer grates that can cause you slip. You’ll power through the wind and take it on as an extra workout, while taking advantage of the extra boost when it’s on your back.
  • Remind yourself of the strength you have
    You’ve run many a run before this day and that is what gives you the strength you need to do this. And you’re there on race day with many other strong (or perhaps crazy) people who want to do this too. Draw strength from within and from those around you.
  • Have the courage to show up
    Showing up on race day despite the elements is not just an act of determination, it’s an act of bravery. You’ve committed to this race and you’re going to finish it. The medal you receive at the end is not just a badge of completion, it’s a badge of courage.
  • Stay resilient to the finish
    This tough race isn’t necessarily going to be about your best time, it’s about the toughness it took to finish it at all. Completion on this day puts you in an even more select group of people who have chosen to run the whole race to the end – keep that in your mind throughout the race as you power through each step.
  • Be mindful of others
    A tough race day is tougher for everyone. You’ll need to be more aware of others as you draw on them for support and as you also provide support to them. Be especially watchful of those who are in need on the course – you’ll never regret taking the time to help out or encourage another runner.


So on that soaking race day I mentioned earlier, I was one of a few hundred who decided to take part. It was an exceptionally inspirational run as it was about raising funds for very young children with a debilitating disease who fought through so much more than one rainy race day. For me, however, I tasted victory for the first time as I won my age category and was glad to have made the choice to run the race that day.

Mentally yours,



Related blog articles by Andrew Chak:

  • Twas the night before the marathon
  • Tips for a rainy race day
  • How I really want you to cheer for me on race day


Follow me: @andrewchak