5 Tips to Conquering Running Setbacks

When you’re training for a marathon, you’re bound to come across setbacks along the way. Overcoming them and achieving your goals isn’t always a matter of willpower alone. Sometimes you need more. Whether it’s an injury, a major hurdle, or a rebellious nature, you need certain tools in your arsenal to help you overcome.

If you’re not properly equipped to make it through, you’re less likely to pick up and keep going!

These are 5 Tips to Conquering Running Setbacks.

1) Recognize the nature of the journey.

Journeys are just that. Journeys. Progress happens over time, and you can’t expect everything to happen all in one upward stroke. Trust me, I had to learn that lesson myself!


Journeys are just that. Journeys. Progress happens over time, and you can’t expect everything to happen all in one upward stroke.

No good journey is without struggle. If you accept that you will face challenges and struggles along the way, you’ll be better poised to handle situations that make you feel defeated. You might feel like things are slipping out of your reach, beyond your control, or out of your hands...but it’s part of the journey.

If something goes off track, it doesn’t mean things are over for you. It doesn’t mean you even have to start from the beginning. You haven’t lost all of your progress. You can pick yourself back up and forge a path to the top. It’s your journey and yours alone.

2) Surround yourself with support...and accountability.

If you’re concerned that your setback (regardless of what it is) is going to get you off track, it always helps to surround yourself with friends and fellow athletes who can encourage you along the way. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or just trying to get back in the saddle, encouragement and accountability can make all the difference in the world.

Trying to go on your own strength doesn’t work forever. Having colleagues that have your back—to compete, inspire, and encourage: that works.

3) Form good habits.

The better habits you have, the harder it will be to slip out of them when you hit a bump in the road. It’s easier to give up and throw in the towel if running isn’t already a big part of your life! Don’t give up. Form those habits and dedicate yourself to trying every day. Even if you don’t hit the marks you want to hit, no effort you make is a wasted one.

4) Adopt a growth mindset

What is a “growth mindset”? It’s the idea that a setback is not a defeat: it’s an opportunity. We think about this in business, too. Losses and failures aren’t really failures, they’re just opportunities to learn and grow. That same mindset can influence our running! Having a bad run, being injured, bad body image or weight gain...these are not failures, but chances to grow, learn, and push yourself to greater heights.

Don’t let setbacks knock you down. Instead, allow them to be the fuel that motivates you to get up and accomplish greater things!

5) Know when to give yourself a break.

One mistake runners make is pushing themselves too far when they truly shouldn’t. Injuries need to heal. While they may not need total inaction, you can’t push yourself like you normally would! Know when to let yourself rest. You may feel frustration, and like you aren’t doing enough: but doing too much is going to hurt you far more in the long run. You will only prolong the healing process!

How do you know if an injury is serious? Generally, if you’re running and feeling pain in one specific spot—if you can pinpoint it—you’re likely injured.

Sometimes, certain injuries can be remedied by changing your running routine, stretching, using ice packs, and just backing off a little. But stress fractures and pulled muscles? Don’t push through that! Take the time to stop and heal. When it comes to injuries, you want to be in your best condition for your next race—not forcing yourself through pain.

What’s your best strategy for dealing with disappointments and setbacks in your training plan? Let me know in the comments!