How to use positive psychology to run better

Asyou may have heard, the last Super Bowl was won by the Los Angeles Rams. Fear not: I am not about to tell you about American football or the final of that championship. I don’t know anything about it and it certainly has nothing to do with running, although they do run, too.

What is interesting about the race, however, is what Rams player Andrew Whitworth told about what led the team to win. In his words, it is not only about obvious physical preparation but more importantly a psychological climate that is unparalleled among teams in that league. As Whitworth says, the Rams’ environment is very relaxed, and there are no coaches or athletic trainers yelling at players trying to stimulate them in the most brutal way. Given their size it would be natural to think so, and just as natural to think that they can withstand verbal aggression-even if done for good-with stoicism.

The secret of the Rams-or at least one of the secrets-is the use of Positive Psychology. And the great thing is that you can use it even you who practice a solitary sport like running, whether in training or competition. Canadian Running Magazine thus adapts the principles of Positive Psychology to the world of running.


The first rule is to focus on the good things done instead of the bad, regardless of the outcome. Therefore, it is a matter of analyzing one’s training or race and-whether they went well or badly-evaluating above all what good was done. You didn’t do a training with the time you had set or I understand the whole distance you wanted to run? Okay, but maybe it wasn’t a good day and you still managed to run even though you didn’t feel like it. It’s kind of the half-full-glass theory: there is always something positive in everything that happens to you, you just have to be able to see it.

Only constructive criticism

There is a big difference between saying “I sucked” and “I did not achieve the results I expected because.”

In the first case you are just mortifying yourself because you did not meet your personal expectations, in the second you are analyzing the reasons why you did not allow it, building a foundation for improvement. Getting depressed leads to nothing (except getting depressed) while finding the causes of a disappointing performance helps to structure new trainings differently, for example, focusing on the weak points of preparation.

What went wrong is not a weakness but an opportunity for improvement.

Put it all in perspective

You thought you were ready for 10k in a given time but failed. Instead of focusing on failure, read your performance not only in relation to the expectations you had but especially in relation to the road you have come so far: months or years ago certain times would have been unthinkable, and now you are disappointed by a performance below expectations. Yet, evaluated on a broader time scale, this is still an excellent performance that denotes undeniable improvement.

In the end it’s a matter of putting everything in perspective and evaluating where you started from and where you got to.

A more relaxed and more analytical-but no less demanding-attitude gets results. Sometimes, if you play American football, it even allows you to win the Super Bowl. Or, more simply, to run better and better.

(Main image credits: Nd3000 on – via Running Magazine)


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