Sports & Gaming

Balancing the Runner’s Mind

Joan Benoit Samuelson

Lesson time 11:43 min

Joan outlines the importance of, and techniques for, finding balance in your life. She talks about overcoming self-doubt and negative thoughts, and empowers you to listen to your own body in deciding when to take time off.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The Runner’s Triad: Mind, Body, Spirit - Self-doubt and Negative Thoughts - Navigating Pain


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Well, in running, the physical component is certainly a big one, but the mental component is also very important. And some people will say it's 90% mental and 10% physical. I think that's going a little bit too far. But I certainly think my mental abilities as an athlete have helped me tremendously over the years, not only in competition, but also in coming back from injuries or frustrating periods during my career. [MUSIC PLAYING] The most important thing to me as a runner and as an individual living a full life is to find a balance. And if you're going to find a balance, you have to follow what I call the runner's triad or the athlete's triad or the triad for life, and that is finding a balance between your mind and your body and your spirit. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think being out in nature really builds my spirituality. I think when you're out on a morning run, and nobody's out there with you, and you hear the birds, and you see the sun rising, or you see the changing landscapes during the changing seasons, to me, there's nothing more spiritual when you realize you're part of that unit of-- of nature and being. And that is definitely a spiritual component of what it is that I'm doing in my life day after day after day. Your mind can be your biggest asset. It also can be a thorn in your side. There have been many times when I haven't felt like myself, and that's sort of a dilemma for me. I don't know whether I should train harder or whether I should take days off, you know. And that's something you really have to think about. And for me, that's the mental aspect of the triad. And sometimes, it's hard to tell what the best thing to do is. I think there is a difference between thinking and believing. Because when I encountered the issues with my knee before the Olympic trials in '84, what kept me going was the fact that I truly believed that nobody out there was training any harder than I was. And I have to confess that I really fed off of the hard and diligent training. It wasn't something that I was concerned about because I truly loved what I was doing. I think the importance of mental toughness in sport or in anything that you're trying to achieve is helping in the ability to overcome challenges and hardships. Everybody encounters obstacles or challenges in whatever it is they're trying to pursue in their respective careers. And I think the mind and the head can be a very important and necessary part of that road to success. I think runners more than any other athletes know their body intimately, and they're constantly aware of what's going on because it's pure sport. I mean, you don't depend on any other equipment except your own physical and mental body. Just check in with yourself. Nobody knows your body any better than you yourself. And I think it's just through living through a workout or living through a day that you know when things are balanced and when things are not...

About the Instructor

Winner of the very first women’s Olympic marathon, Joan Benoit Samuelson has spent her life breaking records and paving the way for female runners around the world. Now she’s teaching her personal philosophy and approach to running. Whether you’re an experienced runner or have been thinking about getting started, you’ll learn how to get motivated, set goals, and achieve victory in running and in life.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Joan Benoit Samuelson

Long-distance legend Joan Benoit Samuelson teaches her personal approach to running so you can go further in running and in life.

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