Practical Mental Coping Strategies for Endurance Lows

Even endurance athletes with true mental grit and mental toughness will inevitably face dark moments when shit gets tough, motivation plummets and the prospect of quitting seems tempting.

The ability to overcome these psychological slumps separates the middle-of-the-pack finishers from the podium contenders.

While physical conditioning is paramount, having an arsenal of mental strategies to deploy when the inner voice turns negative can mean the difference between succumbing to the brain’s quit signals or finding renewed focus and determination.

Your Emergency Mindset Toolkit:

This is your emergency mindset toolkit – a collection of psychological techniques to reboot mental grit when the shadow of burnout and despair looms large over your endurance ambitions.

Breathing Exercises

  • Specific rhythmic breathing patterns to use to re-center and recover mentally (e.g. box breathing, 4-7-8 technique)

Positive Visual Cues

  • Having predetermined positive images/visions to call upon to rebuild inspiration (e.g. loved ones, past successes)

Memory Anchors

  • Pre-planned positive memories to vividly recall and reconnect with sources of determination

Body Scanning

  • Systematic tension-release routines to bypass mental fatigue and reconnect with the physical


  • Breaking down races into motivational segments rather than focusing on the whole daunting distance

Power Postures

  • Adopting postures and stances associated with confidence, resilience to reset the mindset

Cognitive Reframing

  • Countering negative thoughts by consciously reframing them in a more empowering light

External Anchors

  • Identifying motivational competitors, pacer groups or markers on the course to re-engage with

Endurance races create an inevitable ebb and flow of emotional peaks and valleys.

When the tides of motivation go out, the greatest endurance athletes have a toolbox of psychological tactics to draw from.

By implementing these mental coping strategies – whether it’s breathing exercises, positive visual cues, or cognitive reframing – you build resilience against the forces trying to derail your mindset.

You develop the capacity to override the brain’s impulses to quit and instead access renewed focus and determination. Cultivate and practice these techniques, and you’ll fear no motivational abyss, armed with the mental ammo to charge through the lowest lows en route to the finish line.

The mind quits long before the body, but with these coping tools, you’ll be the master of both.

About Liza Smith

Liza: The Endurance Expert – Unlock Your Peak Athletic Potential!

Dedicated to endurance, particularly in extreme events like Ironman, OCR and Ultras, Liza stands out not just as a coach but as an emblem of determination and tenacity.

With a reputation for moulding winners and transforming raw potential into prowess, Liza is the top pick for those aspiring to reign supreme in their sport.

Liza’s coaching philosophy centres on the power of the mind. Her five pillars – Control the Controllable, Find the Positive, Focus on You, 100% Effort, and Extreme Ownership – guide athletes to both mental and physical excellence.

Whether you're just starting out or vying for the gold, Liza ensures your hard work delivers results. Train with Liza and unleash the ultimate athlete within you.