Almost every exerciser has at least one tough workout every month. Whether it occurs during a tour around the block or during a 23-miler or speed session, here are my tricks for continuing:

1. Slow down and allow the body and mind to get a break. Take more walk or shuffle breaks as needed, take more rest between intervals in a speed session, and start back into the workout slower than before. The earlier you make an adjustment, the better quality you’ll be able to salvage from that workout.

2. Break up the remaining distance into segments that you know you can do. Take a walk break (or a shuffle break) every 1 to 3 minutes. You know that you can go another minute, right? If 1 minute is too long, try 30 seconds. Your workout is a series of these segments to the finish line.

3. Use distractions. Look ahead to the next mailbox, stop sign, fast food restaurant, water stop, etc., and tell yourself that you can take a break there. Make sure the segment is short enough so that you feel confident in getting there.

4. Focus on the person ahead of the person in front of you. By looking ahead, you can be pulled past the person in front of you if you’re in a group or a race. Stay mentally attached to that person, noting the outfit, the printing, the hat, etc. If you’re only looking at details, you’ll at least be preoccupying the left brain so that it won’t zing you as badly or as often.

5. Use a mantra. There are various types of words and phrases which will do more than distract you. Develop your own and practice putting yourself into a positive trance. Examples:

  • I’m feeling creative—I’m making adjustments
  • I feel comfortable—I’m in control
  • I feel good—I feel strong
  • I’m floating
  • Come to me—endorphins

6. Don’t give up. If you respond to each thought of quitting with the internal resolve that you are going to finish, you will! Positive mental attitude alone can pull you through many difficult situations.

What tricks do you use to keep going when it gets tough?