The Mental Game
“Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you’re young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don’t let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.” ~ John Bingham
I have touched on this subject before and you will hear me say it constantly: attitude affects how we live and view our everyday life. Whether it’s running a race, going to work, or just doing something we really don’t want to do, a proper mental attitude can always overcome a negative perspective.
We are all guilty of telling ourselves we aren’t good enough to win, we are not fast enough to run or our work place is the worst place on earth. It is easier to make up excuses or find the negative in a situation than it is to take it for what it is and make the best out of it. Being prepared mentally is the only factor that we do have complete control over.
Too often we allow a negative mental approach to affect the result we desire. It is too easy to say you can’t do it before the day begins, but having a positive frame of mind will enhance your chances of success. We’ve heard it and we all have said it before “I’m tired, I didn’t get enough sleep, this run is going to suck, etc.” Right out of the gates we have already set ourselves up for failure and given an excuse to not run well.
The weather for your race could be cold and wet, sunny and hot or absolutely perfect. You may feel great the morning of or you might feel horrible. Your alarm didn’t go off or you didn’t have time to do everything you wanted to do. There are lots of outside factors that can affect your run. Your perspective and outlook will determine how you deal with those factors. No matter what life throws your way, keep a positive attitude, improvise and tell yourself that you will have FUN either way.
You have come a long way since making the decision to cross over to the dark side and become one of those “crazy runners”. This is no easy task to take on. You had to wake up early, run instead of going to happy hour, and felt pain in places you never thought was possible. But all the hard work will soon pay off.
People run for many reasons. Whether your goal is to finish your first race, set a new personal record, or just to have fun, it is good to set a goal for yourself. People who set goals are more likely to succeed than those who do not. You can make lots of small goals to complete along the way, or one large goal. Either way, being realistic and specific on what your goal is will help greatly in accomplishing it.
We all know that life can throw you a curve ball and it’s hard to prepare for the unknown, so have back up plans. The temperature for the Boston Marathon this year had record breaking heat which meant a lot of people had to reevaluate their goals in order to successfully complete the race in a healthy manner. If it rains the morning of, instead of going for a PR, maybe you set a new goal to: not walk, or take the time to look around and appreciate everything around you.
Motivation is a funny thing. There are many reasons behind why someone does something. We all are “motivated” by different things. Some people need music jamming in their ears while some just need to see someone running in front of them so they know they aren’t alone.
During a race, you are running for a long time. There is a lot of time to feel many different emotions: excitement, happiness, soreness, sadness or even boredom. However, there are many motivational tactics that you can use to keep you upbeat and pushing through at your weakest moment. Know what motivates you and keep that in mind when you feel like you just can’t keep going.
Keep your head up and look around at all the people around the course. Take a second to read the signs they are holding up. Some are pretty funny and can put a smile on your face or remind you that you are stronger than you think. Write down quotes or mantras before the race and remind yourself over and over of those when you need them the most.
No matter what your “motivation” is, just keep moving. Also, let us not forget the meaning behind the race and why it exists. That in itself is motivation. You are capable of running/walking and finishing because you trained for it! The race is just the celebration of all your hard work!
Having a running partner is a great thing. It gives you someone to train with, talk to when you run, and makes the entire running experience that much better! But keep in mind, just because you run together during training, doesn’t mean you have to stay together during the race.
You may have different paces and stayed together during training to motivate each other. However, you may have different goals for the actual race. Know and talk to each other about the other’s expectations, goals, as well as what you want to achieve – so you are prepared and your feelings aren’t hurt if you have to part ways on the course. Maybe you start off together to keep a level pace then break off at some point during the race. Either way, do not be afraid to discuss it beforehand with your partner so you don’t have any misunderstandings.
Note: All of the information I give is basically guidelines and experience based – you have to find your own ‘pace’ with running. Some of this may help, some may not. That’s the beauty of runhers, you take what you need! Above all though, have fun and enjoy the journey! This is what you worked so hard for! Enjoy the day, the moment and the celebration! ~ Sara