Running with a friend, Speed Work, and Mindset

I just finished a run with a friend. I call these sorts of runs my “therapeutic” runs. They aren’t meant to be a training session, but I make sure that they are not junk miles either. I make sure I factor them into the wear and tear on my body.

But here is a different kid of wear and tear that I am helping on these runs. Mental wear and tear. The friend I run with happens to be an endurance runner as well. He trains for 50 and 100 mile endurance races. So needless to say, he gets it.

On today’s run we got to talking about mental capacity and conditioning. We discussed the benefits of being honest with yourself, reflecting on years past, and always looking towards reducing weaknesses.

Towards the end of the run, after almost an hour of discussing our past week’s runs, events, and more, we got to the topic of speed work. Over the past year or two, we have both incorporated more speed drills into our training. We both admit that speed work lasting less than an hour is far more difficult than a 12+ mile aerobic run. Why? Well, because speed works is hard. It requires you to push the comfort level in a small window of time. Getting through the grind of a long run, although challenging, is not difficult. It doesn’t require your heart and lungs to push beyond comfort. Speed work does. But I don’t want to get into the details of speed work. I want to share the conversation that emerged around the mental challenges one can and must overcome to get anything out of speed work.


At the end of the run there were a few common traits that we shared, which may help you as well. Here they are:

          Year over year, month over month, week over week, we reflect on our behaviors. If we miss a training session or have a poor one, we don’t give ourselves excuses and move on. We reflect on what the decision means for our physical training and what caused it mentally. Before we make the decision on what to do, we think about how it affects the long term goal, and how we are going to make up for it, or accept our choice and adjust expectations.

          We are consistent. We have found our passion in the endurance sport of our choice, which has allowed us to stick with it year over year. As we go, we build not only our conditioning, but our knowledge. Which brings me to the next one.

          We love to learn. Podcasts, audiobooks, others within our field or sport. We soak up knowledge like sponges, deciphering what may or may not work for us. We try some, we leave some. But we always have a mindset of a learner.

          We have our WHY. Why we do it. Why we get up every day. Why we love it. We have thought about this, adjusted it as we go, and changed it over the years. But we have made it part of WHO WE ARE. And when you do that, making the right choices becomes easier.   

Take what you will from this. Learn.  Grow. Try. And always Fuel, Train, and Overcome!