When I started running I had no idea what I was doing. I picked up an old pair of running shoes from my basement and hit the streets. I figured it was just something I’d have to work at & get in better shape if I wanted to get better. I was partly right. While it’s true you can’t go out and run a marathon with zero training it also takes a lot of mental prep. Since my initial race, I have picked up books, listened to podcasts, read blogs, anything to pick up new info to become more efficient. In part one of Winning with the Mind we looked into silencing the noise, grit, planning ahead, and visualization. In part two I’d like to dive a little deeper into those same points as well as touch on a couple of others.
Having an actual training plan is obviously key. Another great plan to have is knowing how you’ll overcome the negative. Somewhere along the line, you’re going to hit a wall. Twenty-week training cycles are long & sometimes boring. Three-hour solitary runs can be much of the same. Finding a buddy to go on the long run (even if they can only partake in a portion), trying out a new trail, mixing in some track work- these will all help make the mundane days become a little easier. Even doing something as cheesy as hanging a sign in your cubicle with a written out goal may help you remember what all your hard work is for. Also, remember even the most thought through plans rarely work to perfection. Always have an effective contingency plan for when real life happens!
One way to overcome some of that negativity is by having positive mantras. These may be needed during your runs or simply when you try to get out of bed. Some of my favorites are “love the grind”, “train hard race easy”, “this is what I do”, and the list goes on and on. Truthfully I’m a fairly easily motivated person. But these are some of the things I like to say when I come to the hill in my route or my watch buzzes for my next repeat. The trick is finding what works for you. Only you know what makes you tick. It’s up to you to find those things and put them to work.
One thing that helps push people is music. In fact these days it seems like there’s double the amount of people running with headphones in than without. I use them regularly during training runs and usually for the first half of races. After that I like to turn off everything and just listen to my body. I find myself saying a lot of the previously mentioned mantras and talking to myself out loud. I’ll also take the time to talk to The Lord. I’m not telling you how to live religiously but there’s something peaceful and humbling about having conversation with God and thanking him for letting you get to this point, then asking for help getting even further.
I recently heard about another race day ritual that helped people get through the miles without electronics. With every mile that passes have something to be thankful for and think about those things for a while. I’m 9 days out from my next 1/2 marathon and plan on coming up with 13.1 reasons to be thankful. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to unplugging this much.
The last piece of advice I’ll leave you with is the most obvious yet most forgotten of them all. SIMPLY HAVE FUN! I’m the first to admit to getting caught up in PRs and hitting your goals. I also enjoy taking time to letting myself soak in what’s going on around me. This could be admiring the beauty on a long winter run, the sunrise in the morning as you wrap up a run before work, or maybe it’s letting yourself get wrapped up in the atmosphere and support on race day. There’s plenty of things to help you keep a positive attitude when times get tough. It’s a matter of turning your mind off for a second and opening up your eyes to what’s been provided for you.
I can’t express how important it is to have the right mindset throughout your training journey. You’re bound to have negative moments somewhere along the way. Understanding it’s only temporary and finding ways to avoid those moments is a huge factor in achieving your fitness goals. Remember that every athlete will fail. It’s the champions that learn from those moments and push forward. I can’t wait to continue research on the runners brain and sharing what I find. Until then, #trainhardraceeasy!
Be sure to check out Mike’s first installment of Winning With the Mind! Loved this perspective and guidance. Thanks, Mike!
Your trainer and Friend,
Cassie and Mike