A lot of energy and time goes into the physical preparation for a big race: key workouts, long runs, cross training. But often times we overlook a major component to our race day performance: our mind. One of the major shifts in my running came when I started to think about running and racing differently. Mentally preparing for a race is just as important as they physical preparation, if not more so.
Here are a few key exercises that can help you change the way you think and perform in your next race.
Visualize overcoming your greatest fear
Often times we try to avoid thinking about “worse case” scenarios when it comes to our race. But spending time prior to the race thinking about what could go wrong can be helpful on race day. Think about your biggest fear: bonking at mile 20, struggling on the a major hill, going out too fast. Now think about yourself in that moment overcoming the obstacle , think of how you could respond in a positive way and then picture yourself being stronger than the biggest fear you have. Visualizing yourself overcoming a major set back during the race can mean a positive performance on race day.
Create a mantra you can repeat
Mantras can be helpful on race day because they allow you to combat negative thoughts. Negative thinking can often lead to decreased physical performance. So take some time prior to the race to repeat a few mantras that will help you wrong strong when you need a little help. Here are 13.1 that can help you in your next half marathon.
Focus on what is in your control
Write down all the things that are potentially out of your control and what your response to those things will be. The weather might not be ideal, or perhaps the course doesn’t match the description you read. Consider all these less-than-ideal conditions and how you will respond to them. Decide to give your energy on race day to the things that you can control and let go of the things that you cannot control.
What mental tricks do you use to help manage your performance on race day?
These sports physiology books are great ways to change the way you think about racing and running, I’ve learned so much from both of them and consider them well-worth reading.
How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald