Mental Skills for Young Runners (Introduction)

The Growing Runner’s Approach to Mental Training

Introducing a mental training variation on GR’s “PR Pyramid” …


If you listen to top distance runners describe that ONE THING made the biggest difference in their personal performance breakthrough, chances are pretty good that you won’t hear about a particular workout.  But I bet you’ll almost always hear about something “new” that they discovered inside themselves just waiting to come out — something that allowed or maybe forced them to CHANGE their psychological approach to training or racing. 

Certainly most young distance runners already know that having the PROPER  MINDSET and a  POSITIVE  ATTITUDE are important to improving their racing performance.  But in my experience, very very few of them (or their parents or coaches for that matter) actually know exactly how to develop the right mental skills.  The first step – the first tool – we recommend and use is one that guides young runners through a short, self-assessment. GRTC’s model is based on a questionnaire developed by Dr. Jack Lesyk of the Ohio Center for Sports Psychology after years of testing and research. The questions are intended to help athletes, parents and coaches identify the athlete’s mental skill set in nine critical areas: attitude, motivation, goals, self-talk, mental imagery, anxiety, emotions, and concentration.

As Dr. Lesyk reminds us, all successful athletes share the belief that their sport is important to them and that they’re committed to being the best they can be: “They set high, realistic goals for themselves and train and play hard. … Their sport participation enriches their lives and they believe that what they get back is worth what they put into their sport.” At GRTC, our system is built on the foundational principle that mental skills CAN BE IMPROVED with instruction and regular practice. 

Runners, when you’re ready to change, to grow stronger, and to get faster, just start by looking in the mirror and reflecting on how important running and racing is to you. Take a minute now to sign up for the first in our special series of self-assessment tools for serious young distance runners — just click this link:

Coaches and parents, if you want more information on these tools and how to use them for your team or kids, please let us know by subscribing:


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