Learn to Mosey and Relax Runner

Learn to Mosey – A sure-fire way to improve the quality of your training


Our training camp was a set of isolated cabins in the mountains outside of San Diego. Athletes would arrive for 12-16 weeks to get ready for a big race. At first, the athletes scurried about between training sessions. But, soon, I noticed a distinct change in their gait. Instead of scurrying, they began to “mosey” through camp.

Mosey means to walk leisurely, in no rush and (seemingly) without worry. For these pro runners, I noticed that whenever an athlete started to mosey, the quality of their training really ramped up.

I discovered it wasn’t about the change in their gait. It was about the change in their mindset. The isolation stripped away the usual mental clutter of daily life so they could put more mental energy into the key training sessions. I learned that this “moseying mindset” is very conducive to high performance training and racing.

The good news is that you don’t have to live in a cabin in the woods to add more mosey to your mental state. Use these simple concepts and you’ll see a big jump in the quality of your key sessions.

Reduce Activities

Ever notice when you have a low-key weekend, you don’t know what to do with yourself? It’s insane that we’re so conditioned to being busy (and always complaining about it) that when we can just relax, we don’t know what to do. I think this is a big part of adding more mosey, you become “okay” with being a little bored, especially in the day or two leading into a big training session. Instead of filling every minute with something to do, you learn to just rest and relax physically and mentally.

Chasing big goals requires narrowing your focus so your best efforts can go toward your training. Does this mean you have to live in a cabin in the woods and not have any interests outside of your running? Of course not. It just means that slowing down the pace of your life so you can speed up the pace of your running is a great way to reach your goals, especially during the most challenging parts of your training cycle.

Calm Your Mind

And, all runners know that the real challenge in running is between the ears. So, you need full attention mentally if you are going to get the most from your key training sessions. And that means that you should work to reduce your total mental activity load and start to narrow your focus. You can have your “high mental activity” days but not around your key workout days.

Here are a few quick tips to reduce the mental clutter and calm your mind:

  • say “no” more often to lower the demand on your mental system, especially in the day before (and of) your key training sessions
  • take a news fast (avoiding the news feed and associated stress) in the day before your key sessions
  • use the old “kill your television” idea and expand it to your phone, tablet and computer so you lower the “noise” in your mind (especially around your key workouts days) and
  • find a relaxed yet focused mind for your upcoming training so you are fully ready for the mental battle of the key training sessions.

Do you have to live like a monk and shut out the outside world? No. But at the camp, I observed that as athletes reduced their external mental clutter and their anxiousness (and worry and stress) about the upcoming workouts, they performed better.

Worry Less

This is also an important point. It’s one thing to reduce the external mental clutter but it’s another to learn to accept the uncertainties of training and look forward to the exploration of your abilities. This is also a part of adding mosey to your life.

Instead of worrying if you’ll hit your times in the workout, a runner with more mosey simply looks forward to the test. Less focus is on the “what ifs” and more focus is on the process itself, a kind of child-like curiosity for what is going to happen.

Then, the mind stays engaged and never gives in when the going gets tough. After all, the point of training is to test the abilities on the day, nothing more. Why worry about the results?

Runners who mosey take what the day gives knowing there will be more battles later and no one workout makes or breaks a training cycle. But, a moseying athlete also has the right frame of mind to get the most out of any training day, increasing the effectiveness of the training on a regular basis.

Quiet Time

Great runners are nearly always great at resting. And resting comes in three forms – quiet time, naps and sleep. As runners begin to mosey, they seem to be able to rest more and rest better.

What I noticed with the pros is that they always follow their key training sessions with some quiet time. After the workout is complete, the recovery drink consumed and meal enjoyed, they always carve out some quiet time. It could be just sitting quietly. It could be some form of reflection on the workout. It could be meditation, reading a book or really anything that is mindless. Instead of rushing to the next mental activity, they carve out some quiet time to balance the intensity of the high quality running just completed. They turn inward after such an outwardly physical experience like a hard-running workout.

Now I know what you’re saying, “This is great Greg, but I have a job/family/life into which I’m squeezing my run.” I understand but the point is that you don’t have to do this after every run. But for those few high-quality workouts that you have across your training month, pre-plan them so you aren’t as rushed on those days. Respect the mental and physical effort of the workout and balance it with 10-20 minutes (or more if you can) of quiet time.

Nap Time

The same goes with naps – something nearly all pro runners do. Again, you don’t have to quit your job and move to the woods, but for your biggest workouts, how about pre-planning some time to lay down and close your eyes post run? If it’s a mid-week workout, then alert your family that when you get home from work, you’re going to need to rest from your workout. Then, you’ll have more energy for them and your other activities. (Maybe they need to add some mosey to their lives too and will join you!)

And for those who are training for a long race, the weekend long run is the perfect day to pre-plan a nap. Again, if you pre-plan it and get everyone onboard, you can start adding in these naps on those few key sessions in your training month and just like the pros, you’ll recover faster and be more prepared for the next big effort on your training plan. Can you see how this would greatly enhance your ability to train better?

And that’s what I want to reinforce here. What I noticed with the pros at the camp was that the quality of their future workouts greatly increased. They got more bang from the buck because their moseying lifestyle allowed for a higher quality of training.

Go to Bed

Lastly, sleep is the greatest recovery tool we have, and I know it’s not news to suggest that you should get good sleep. But suffice it to say that sleep is an endangered species in modern life. But, sleep is also a cornerstone to adding more mosey to your life.

Another thing I noticed at the camp was that as runners began to mosey, they also began to sleep more, and the quality of the sleep went way up. They were more refreshed and more prepared to tackle the day’s training.

I have four instructions to athletes when it comes to sleep:

First, go to bed at an early and consistent bedtime. Sleeping in to “catch up on sleep” is not a good, long-term strategy for high quality training. Instead, pick an early bedtime and start to consistently go to bed at that time. A consistent bed time more quickly gets us into the deep sleep where the most recovery happens resulting in better recovery and more preparedness for the upcoming training.

Second, reduce your device time before bed. There is growing research on everything from the effect of the device’s light to the electromagnetic pollution to the time it takes to “come down” after being mentally active on a device (phone, tablet, computer, TV, etc.). I also find that devices and what you do on them can suck you in so instead of just “checking Facebook one last time,” you suddenly have spent an hour and are now behind in getting to sleep. That was one advantage of the mountain camp – very poor internet reception.

Third, calm your mind. As mentioned above, a big part of sleep isn’t just going to bed but actually falling asleep. Stopping the volume of mental engagement before bed time is key. Start the process of going to bed well in advance (30-45 minutes) of your bed time. Begin to decompress mentally. In fact, some of the athletes in camp had a very regimented evening schedule and this seemed to really help them get to sleep quickly.

Fourth, be goal focused. If you are frequently thinking about your running goals and you know that getting to bed will help you recover faster and then train better, you’ll go to bed. It’s harder to do things that aren’t in line with your stated goals when they are front and center. So, put your goals near your bed. Review them as part of your bedtime process. It will help you get to bed to get your sleep.

These little things (like going to bed on time) over time add up and allow you to train at a much higher level and give yourself the chance at a big jump in performance.

Increase the Quality of Key Sessions

This is the big payoff of the mental moseying. When you learn to scale back the busyness of your life, particularly around your biggest training sessions in your training week and month, you learn that you can put more effort into your key training sessions. You can train with higher quality and I’ve learned that if you can increase the quality of your training, you will race faster.

At the camp, I quickly noticed that as athletes began to mosey, as they began to get their rest, as they began to reduce their mental “noise” and worry less, they could really put more effort into the quality days. Certainly, the “daily grind” of the runner is part of success but the biggest jumps in confidence and belief came from these big key workouts. Do these workouts better and your confidence grows.

High confidence from high quality training equals high probability that you will achieve your goals.

Does this mean you should race your workouts and over train? No. It just means that you get the most from each key workout session. You are focused on the best execution of the workout. You get the job done and as a result build your mental fitness along with your physical fitness.

Final Thoughts

It was an honor to work with athletes from around the world at that training camp. It was great to see the mosey begin and it taught me a lesson that all of us can use.

Learn to mosey a bit more, especially around your key training sessions, and I bet you’ll start seeing a big uptick in the quality of your training. Do this across your next training cycle and you will be more prepared for race day and you may just experience a big breakthrough like most of the pros at the camp did.

As always, let me know if you have questions. Email Greg


How to miss the point

Whenever I write an article, I always worry someone will miss the point. So, here is a little post-script on how to miss the point in hopes that you won’t.

Mistake #1: I don’t live like a pro so I can’t mosey.

No. Anyone can add mosey. The point of this article is for you to start looking at things in your life that may not be contributing to your running goals and could be considered “fluff.” Most of us can carve out an extra hour from each day if we just removed the fluff. And that extra hour can go a long way toward more prehab, earlier bedtime and/or a more relaxed mind.

Mistake #2: I’m super busy and have responsibilities I just can’t drop in order to mosey.

Correct. The point of this article is not that you shirk your responsibilities. It’s just a reminder that you have running goals and they are important to you (and probably help you be better at your job and in your relationships). And, for a few runs each month (those really key workouts), you might pre-plan to help you reduce the workload on those few days so you can get more from your key training. That’s how those of us in the “real world” can add mosey.

Mistake #3: I should race my workouts and “beat” the paces.

No. The point isn’t that you race or over train in your workouts. The point is that you are more rested and mentally prepared and therefore are more likely to properly execute the training – fewer poor workouts. With mosey, you run at the appropriate effort but often find that you are able to run faster and/or longer in your quality sessions. You don’t force it but are simply more prepared and as a result, you are more likely to run faster.

Mistake #4: I have to ban TV, social media and throw away my phone? I must only be focused on my running?

No. Adding mosey doesn’t mean you only eat, sleep and run. It’s just an observation that for runners with big goals, a thoughtful approach to how everything fits into your life is important. And that for those few days per month when you have your big workouts, you might place more importance on preparing for and executing the workouts than some of your other pursuits. Other, non-key running days, offer plenty of opportunity for your other interests.


Train Smart. Run Faster.

To help you train for your next set of goals, I’ve created my recommendation tool within the McMillan Calculator so that based on your goals, I can provide my recommended training plan for you. Or you can peruse all of my plans here. These are priced between $24.99 and $49.99, each depending on the plan.

Of course, the best option is to join my Run Team, which is only $29.95 per month. With this program, all your plans are included (as long as you stay a member) and you get coaching access from me. I can help you build the exact sequence for your goals and then help you along the way as the inevitable questions come up. This program has become my pride and joy as I love getting to be more involved with your training and I enjoy seeing the camaraderie that comes from all the McMillan runners in this private online training group. I priced it at only $29.95 so hopefully, it’s a no brainer to at least try.

And, as always, let me know if you have questions or need help planning your next training cycle. Till then, dream big.

Written By Greg McMillan
Called “one of the best and smartest distance running coaches in America” by Runner’s World’s Amby Burfoot, Greg McMillan is renowned for his ability to combine the science of endurance performance with the art of real-world coaching. While getting his graduate degree in Exercise Science he created the ever-popular McMillan Running Calculator – called “The Best Running Calculator” by Outside Magazine. A National Champion runner himself, Greg coaches runners from beginners to Boston Qualifiers (15,000+ and counting!) to Olympians.

Read Greg’s Bio




“I got my first Boston Qualifier today with a 21 personal record!”

– Ramona M.