From Chuck Sohaskey – We spend a lot of time and effort trying to make ourselves physically stronger to run faster. It seems to me that part of racing is being able to mentally push yourself to run even though it hurts. How can we increase this mental toughness and the ability to push harder?
the Coach – I feel that this is an area that gets too little attention paid, Chuck. I know for certain that I have beaten many people in races when they were equally or better prepared physically than I was at the time. Why did I come out ahead then? I was better prepared mentally, which provided me the positive outlook and confidence I needed to beat them. And although nothing can substitute for good, hard miles on the road, trail and track, being strong mentally can give an athlete the edge when everything else is equal. I doubt anyone could argue the “toughness” of Steve Prefontaine, Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. Each is known for their ability to perform at a high level under extreme pressure. Each trained their minds almost as acutely as they trained their muscles.
Six-time Hawaii Ironman triathlon champion Dave Scott has said that the untapped frontiers of sports lie not in muscular training but instead in the unknown potential of our minds. So how do we tap in to our brains to gain an advantage? The following mental techniques can definitely help runners, though mastering them takes regular practice:
Visualization – involves mentally rehearsing positive outcomes of future events. For example, before bed time pick a quiet spot to close your eyes, relax and envision an upcoming race. In your minds eye, picture the crowds of people, the starting line, running strong and effortlessly, the changes in the course, overcoming potential obstacles and crossing the finish line. The more vivid the visualization, the more prepared you will be.
Positive Self-Talk – is the “internal dialog” which goes through a person’s mind. When running or racing, you may “tell” yourself that you are hot, tired and just don’t follows: “Well, the result may not be what I expected, but the race was a difficult training session which will make me even more fit for the next one.”
The bottom line? Train your brain along with your body to produce confidence and success!
Some ideas and information for this response were obtained from articles on www.runquick.com and www.competitor.com.