Looking back at my training for races, I do a lot of cringing.
As in, insert forehead slap, “What was I thinking?!”
Particularly half and full marathon training.
Name any single one – not fueling during training, skimping on running goal pace miles, running through pain, etc and I’ve done them all. I’d like to think I’m getting wiser the more I run, that I’m learning from my past mistakes. But I’m a stubborn runner. Sometimes it takes a failure or ten, for me to have an AHA! moment.
One of the biggest things that I’m working on this training period is building my mental toughness.
I’ve learned over the years that running is at least 90% mental. My mind needs to be trained just as much as my muscles and cardiorespiratory system. When negative thoughts creep in, things can quickly take a nose dive.
I can’t becomes my mantra. Which usually follows with a slowing pace.
I trained for a half marathon a few years ago that I had my heart set on achieving a shiny new PR. My training went really well so I thought it was going to be easy (as easy as running a half marathon can be – lol!).
Long story short – I tanked at mile 3 because of negative thoughts.
I was so worried throughout my training and the days leading up to the race that a tendon injury that I had 6 months prior was going to rear it’s ugly head and prevent me from reaching my goal.
Worry leads to self sabotage. I felt one little twinge and spiraled out of control with negativity. By mile 6 I was ready to walk off the course.
FYI – I was completely fine. Who knows…maybe there never even was a twinge? Once Negative Nellie had her hands on me, I was toast.
Since this will be my first real race effort since my injury in 2015, I don’t want a repeat of that scenario.
Negative Nellie is being replaced with Positive Polly.
Or at least I’m trying to do this. Like I said, I’m in training.
Last week, during my long run that called for the last 5 miles at goal marathon pace, I put into practice what I’ve failed to do in my previous training plans.
Simple phrases like I am strong or I can do hard things totally flipped my perspective and that fast finish wasn’t nearly as tough as I envisioned it was going to be.
Along with the positive self talk, I’ve been trying to visualize myself running the actual race. Of course, I’m visualizing me crossing the finish line, arms raised high above my head, with my goal marathon time on the finisher’s clock.
I’m also visualizing moments where I’ll be fatigued and want to stop. I’m visualizing the last few miles where I’m deep in the pain cave and just want to be D.O.N.E with the damn race. What will I do to get my head out of that moment? How will I direct my attention elsewhere?
I put my body through the paces of training. It’s time my mind got a workout too. Fingers crossed, we all work together on race day!
Are you a Negative Nellie or Positive Polly on race day?
What’s your best mental trick in running?