Vitesse Running


Overcoming mental barriers which prevent you from becoming a (better) runner

Running is a mental sport, much more than you think. However, we often focus on the physical part of running. For example, when we see a runner, we notice their genetics, body size, shape, natural ability to run much faster than us at a certain distance, or how they barely breathe while you are gasping out of the air on the run. We often think that they are naturally gifted, and we are just not. And although that might be partially true, it doesn’t mean we cannot become better runners than those who seem to get far so easy with running. 

What I am about to write about is true not only about running or sport in general. It’s true for any path you choose. You can rise above what you believe is possible. Just keep reading.


“It’s not my thing. I am not good enough.”


How often do you think about that phrase? How frequently have you told this to yourself? Let me tell you a story. When I was young, I felt like running would be my sport. However, I quickly learned that this might not be the case when I started running. At my first national championship, I beat only one girl. I was “almost” last. People told me I was slow. I don’t have what is called a “natural speed” or simply said – the ability to sprint. As a result, everyone would outkick me in a race. I would often slow down my pace with each kilometre I ran. This went on for at least five years, and it is happening even now sometimes. But what changed is that I am not so slow anymore, and I don’t always slow down. I am not last at races; I am an Olympian and a multiple national record holder in different events. But what really changed is my mind, the mental side of running


It’s okay not to be good enough at something, especially initially. It may take a lot of time to become good at something that others are doing fantastic. But this doesn’t mean you cannot be better than them. It just means that you have to work much harder than others and learn how important the mental part of the problem is. So if things come together slower for you, don’t give up. You never know how far you can get if you don’t at least try.


“I am barely improving. I have a few ups and so many downs.”


The road to success is not linear. Sometimes we have to face a lot of failures (all at once) to make a big jump. Remember that anything that happens to you is happening for a reason, and you can learn from it. You can become better out of it. After a full year of disappointments, I had my biggest jumps in sport. I was getting worse the entire 2017. I was so much slower than the last few years, although I was putting in a tremendous effort. Finally, I sat down with myself, almost ready to give up. But I knew this would mean I allow bad moments to take over me, which is not who I am. I put myself together again and continue to work hard, setting even higher goals in my mind. Finally, I had the most significant breakthrough moments following the next three years. 2017 was there for a reason. It almost broke me, but actually, it made me stronger. I know that sometimes we have to settle with the moment and learn from it. 

If you are going through a rough patch, don’t give up. Instead, overcome it, and become a better version of yourself.


“I am afraid I will fail. It’s better if I play it safe.”

Sometimes to grow, we have to go out of our comfort zone. But unfortunately, this often comes with the fear of not performing up to our expectations. 

When I was struggling in 2017, I decided to change something. I changed my goals and considered what I had to do to achieve them. It was about all the little things and dedication; it was about running further and faster or at least trying to. I will admit, it was hard, especially in the beginning. But to achieve your goals, you often have to do something different and challenging. You cannot just settle in your comfort zone and play it safe. You have to risk and try. Only then you will know what you are capable of.

Is there such a thing as failure? I don’t believe so. We can always learn something and gain experience. If you are brave enough to try, you always gain something. 


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Militsa Mircheva

Militsa Mircheva

Long-distance Olympic runner & national records holder.

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