It’s suggested that ‘running is 90% mental, and the rest is the ‘easy’ physical bit.”
It’s that mental aspect that makes running so hard at times. You can be in the best physical shape of your life, but if your mind isn’t into it, chances are you’re not going to have a great session/run/race and you’ll probably end up giving yourself SUCH A HARD TIME!
Running training is as much about building mental toughness as it is about developing physical strength, I’m sure you’ve all felt that buzz when you get through a tough training session or race and then the general feeling of awesomeness that you got actually got through it!
However, there is also the risk that those tough sessions or disappointing races/runs can leave you feeling empty and despondent and questioning why you bother, what’s the point. These negative thoughts can then lead to fear of giving it a go again.
Fear is powerful, it can paralyse you. The mind can be incredibly manipulative when it doesn’t want you to do something. When you feel the fear taking hold, it’s important to remind yourself of why it is you signed up for the session/run /race in the first place.
There will be many positive reasons: getting fitter; losing weight; enjoying the banter; having a coffee afterwards; getting a medal; working towards a PB; enjoying the camaraderie; being a part of a group; seeing such great photos on Fbook post-session!
Whatever your motivation, maybe write it down or share it with the group. Try to focus on the reasons why you should run rather than allowing your manipulative mind to convince you not to!
There is no perfect formula (sometimes you can have bad days for no apparent reason) but below are a few pointers which may give you a strong mental edge.
Whether this is for a race, a training session or a steady run, talk to yourself about what it is you want to achieve from it. Maybe you know it’s going to be a hard 8 rep session, and the fear of this is beginning to paralyse you and suddenly the need to stay at home to lick the kitchen floor clean, clear the driveway of moss with your bare hands and do double algebra homework with your children becomes a priority!
This is probably the time to cut yourself some slack and say, OK, I am still going to go, but I’ll do 6 of the 8 reps, or 5 and then see how I feel. You do have a choice and when you’re in control you’re much more likely to succeed.
Channel that nervous energy
A little anxiety can be a good thing (although too much and you’ll need a loo close by!) Again, the trick is to not let it paralyse you. Don’t get overwhelmed with anxiety or let the nerves create doubts in your mind. Remember that you have chosen to do this run/ session/race, that you will ALWAYS benefit from taking part, even if it isn’t what you set out to achieve. Nerves are your friend, channel these nerves as they can help you get through runs you never thought possible!
Sometimes we get so caught up in the stress of performing well that we forget that we’re doing this because it’s supposed to make us feel good!
A good run/race/session is a celebration of all your hard work, your dedication, and of running itself! Our bodies can do some pretty amazing things. Not every run is going to feel awesome, and they certainly won’t all be easy, but when you approach a race or training session as something fun, chances are you’re going to feel better than if you’re filled with dread.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that it really is mind over matter. Believe in yourself. Remind yourself of how far you’ve come and try to focus on what you’ve achieved rather than worrying about what might (or might not) happen.