Long hours in the outside, sweating and discomfort. Runners know how to push their body to the limit, but do they know how to train their brain.
Mental training is not only for a professional athlete. Mental factors are seen as high self-esteem and confidence, but it’s much more.
Goal setting, positive thinking and imagery are psychological principles and one stage of training and performance. Mental skills need practice like physical skills. We all feel nervousness before the race or before the tough training session. Mental training also helps with motivation and long-term goal setting.
Think about this…
Think your attitude, are you afraid of failing, how committed you are. Are you give up easily, because you failed or things don’t go as smooth as you expected? It’s normal to feel nervous and sometimes training sessions or races are not that good, but if you already waiting that “I’m not good enough” or “I will fail” or “I’m SO nervous”, you will end up failing.
Mental training doesn’t take much time, but it can make every runner even more confidence. Our brain can cheat our body.
If you believe you are tired, you start to feel tired physically. Also, if you trust your capability, your body believes that and perform better. We can code to your brain image that we perform some task great, and once we do it in practice, our brain remembers that mental coding and input to our body to signal to work as we practised. Of course, it does not work 100% as we think about it. For example, you won’t make marathon world records, without any physical training, and even then it’s almost impossible for most of us. But if you know there’s a big uphill end of your long run and you imaging that you will run it easily and effortlessly. The hill won’t feel that bad, as your brain have a memory of easiness.
What to do?
There are many ways to do mental training, without access to the professional. Imagery is a very effective way. You can do it before you go to sleep, image your next day training session. Or when tapering the marathon, learn to the racecourse and difficult points such as hills and the last few kilometres. Focus on a positive outcome, add emotions and feeling, see yourself running effortlessly.
Positive thinking and speaking is also an effective way. Say positive things to yourself, even when you feel tired and exhausted. Try to find something good and cheer yourself.
Set goals, be realistic. Make smaller goals on the way.
Focus breathing. Learn breath and relax. This is easy to practice at the bed before falling asleep. Learn to empty your busy thoughts and relax the body.
Make this habit and do them often. At first, they might feel difficult, but don’t give up.