Get Tough! Develop Mental Strength For Race Day
Make your next running race more enjoyable – and successful – with these mental toughness tips.
We spend months training our bodies for a running event, but have you ever considered training your mind? Mental strength skills mean you’ll be calmer, more confident, and less anxious on race day, so you can focus all your energy on achieving your goals.
Try these 5 advanced mental toughness tips for runners of all levels.
#1 List The Unexpected
We all want to imagine a perfect race, but things rarely go without a hitch. Before race day, write down a list of big and small events that might crop up during your race. Face the fear head on and develop mental strategies to deal with them. Here are some scenarios you might like to consider:
– cramps, stitch, or other aches and pains
– dropping energy gels or water
– feed station too crowded
– gut issues or needing the toilet
– shoelace coming undone
– getting stuck in a group or a bottleneck
– racing by yourself in a lonely stretch of a long race
– energy dips/hitting the wall
Long before race day, spend quiet time visualising both the positive and the negative scenarios that might occur during your race. Don’t just imagine them in theory. Really step into them – summon up the sights, sounds, and feelings. Imagine how you will feel, what you will do, and how you will deal with a good or a bad turn of events. This mental toughness skill means you will know what to do should it actually happen. You’ll be able to work through it and carry on more quickly and with better success!
#3 Grow Your Confidence
A confidence runner is usually a better, faster runner. Spend time visualising yourself succeeding, hitting your goals, and having a great race. Be specific with your imaginings – sights, sounds, smells, views, what you are wearing, the sun in the sky. This exercise will subconsciously boost your self belief, and in turn help you train well and be a happier runner. If you develop any affirmations or phrases during your self-confidence exercises, use them on race day to get you in the zone.
#4 Calm & Confident On Race Day
When race day arrives, you can call on all your mental strength work to get you into a positive state of mind. Remember all your best, happiest, most positive training runs. Call to mind how you felt and look back at all your “investments” of training runs. Don’t think about what you can’t control on race day. Focus on what you can – and remember that you have already planned and visualised how you will cope if anything within your control does go awry.
#5 Mental Strength During The Race
Once the race starts, you can use all your mental toughness skills to stay calm, strong, and confidence. Stay positive by focusing on the self-confidence you built up during training. If you came up with any positive mantras, call them to mind as you run. Positive, simple words will keep you in a strong mindset and prevent doubt creeping in. Use positive words to push you up hills or through tough patches of the race.
If your physical training routine has gone well, a few simple mental toughness exercises can help race day be even more enjoyable and successful