There are some races that you can never imagine yourself running even if it helps you become a better athlete. I'm pretty sure that's how a 400m/800m runner feels when they are asked to run cross country and it's definitely how I feel when my coach tells me I have to run the 800m. I feel mentally defeated when I hear 800m, but something all athletes have to learn to do is to run things they don't like.
There's going to come a time where you'll have to run your least favorite race in an actual meet. I don't know about you, but I always want to do my best when I run any race in a meet, even if it's a dreadful 800m. One way to make sure that you can have the best race possible is to mentally prepare yourself. The proper mentality can make any hard race and workout easy. Here are a few tips of what you can do to mentally get yourself right for something you're dreading, very nervous about or even when you're running your race.
Visualize how you want your race to go -- The day before your race you have to think it through. Run your race in your head as many times as you need to, just so that mentally you know your plan. See yourself running a good race and 9 times out of 10 you'll run a good race.
Be positive -- If you think in your head that you're going to lose when it comes to race day you might not lose, but you won't run what your capable. A lot of people think that if they say "I suck" or "I'm not feeling it today", can work as reverse psychology to help them run better. THAT IS AN ABSOLUTE LIE. If there's any doubt about what you're about to go out in do, your mind is going to find it and use it against your body.
Talk to yourself -- Even though visualizing before should be a huge help as far as running the race you want. A little encouragement isn't a bad thing, and it's a bugger help when it's coming from YOU. When I run something I hate (the 800m) I tell myself, "keep pushing, one lap left" ,"GO WITH HER", "you're doing great, now run faster".
By doing at least one of these three things you should feel more confident and you should definitely have more positive thoughts about the event you dislike even if it's only while you're doing it. It's funny because when I mentally prepare myself for 800's when it's done; I realize it wasn't as hard as I thought.
Trust me your least favorite races get easier as time goes on, but only if you let them. The reason we don't like most races is because they're painful, you had a bad experiences or you think you can't do it. If it's the last reason, then let me be one of the many people to tell you that you can do anything you put your mind to. Everything you do has to goes through your mind and then transmits to your body. So, if you tell yourself to have a good race, your legs are going to give you the race you want. Don't get mentally discouraged because when you step on the line you need to be confident in the race your about to put out, even if your nervous.