Running can be a very competitive sport but most of the time, a runner just competes against his or her own best times. But it’s still a big thrill to finish a race strong. That’s why a lot of runners look for ways to make themselves faster and stronger on the track. While it’s understandable that we would focus on the physical, we shouldn’t neglect the mental aspect of this endurance sport.
To be able to run your best race, you have to have a good grasp on key elements like confidence, concentration and motivation. You should also know how to visualize and, as unlikely as it seems, relax.
Here are some tips on how you can perform well in any race.
This is undoubtedly easier said than done for some people. But there are things that we can do to improve our confidence about the race. For instance, try gunning for a faster pace than you’re used to. Or do workouts that you feel intimidated about doing while training for your race. Completing a hard or scary workout is a big boost to the ego.
Another cliché that gives amazing results. Don’t think about a disappointing run or worry about not getting enough training in while you’re running. Focus on a good run that you had. Think about how you finished strong.
Visualize and prepare
Think about situations that you might encounter during the race. Visualize how it will happen; imagine how you’d deal with it. And then practice for it. If you’re not used to running in the rain, visualize it and run or ride in the rain. If the terrain is hilly, practice running up and down hills or inclined areas. You’ll never know what conditions will greet you on race day. Visualizing and preparing for it will give you the confidence that you know how to respond to any situation.
This is a critical step in any race, training program or undertaking in life. Experts advise that you follow the SMART way of setting goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). Find ways to commit to your goal, whether it’s by writing it down somewhere that you’ll always see or telling your family about it.
Come up with mini-goals during race day
At some point in the race, you will hit the proverbial wall. You’ll struggle, you’ll ache and you’ll start losing focus. Giving yourself small, temporary goals will motivate you. For instance, focus on overtaking the person in front of you or reaching the next bend. Set another goal once you’ve hit the previous one. It gives you something to focus on so you won’t feel overwhelmed.
Pick a mantra
Choose a short phrase and keep saying it to yourself. It can be as simple as reminding yourself to breathe in or telling yourself I can do this. Mantras are great morale boosters and reminders of what you want to accomplish.
Don’t forget that every race is a learning experience and every finish, whether you finished strong or not, should be celebrated.