Why is that??? I have a few ideas. The first is that it is VERY VERY difficult to measure Mental capacity/strength. Physical endurance can be built up, tested and is visible. But the inner workings of the Athlete, how do we test that? My answer? NO IDEA FOLKS..
I have been an athlete for as long as I can remember. My Mental bag of tricks is so big that it is collecting dust. (DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional psychologist) I may not be able to make you a Brain Training Plan but I will offer a few things that work for me:
Tall Mom Brain Training Tricks:
- Avoid the Negative Self Fulfilling prophecy- Don't know what this is, check out Wikipedia here. How does this relate to running? Have you ever said the following "I can't run more than 2 miles without stopping," or "I always bonk at mile 17," or "I am so slow, I will never be able to run fast," or "I am not a strong runner." Say those things to yourself, even internally, enough times and it becomes the TRUTH. That negative seed you planted will come back to take you down, so don't plant the seed. Change your thinking to be positive!!
- Find Autopilot- If you have been a distance runner (Distance runner by my definition is 3 miles+++) long enough you have found Autopilot. It is that state where you are not consciously aware that you are running. Lost in your music, taking in the environment, etc.. Your feet are moving, but you are not thinking about running. When I find myself letting Negative Nancy in, I push her out by clearing my mind. I will sing, people watch and look for interesting things along the path. I will often tell myself and my running buddies "Get out of your head!!"
- File Away Runs- While training for the Eugene Marathon I had a mental file for my training runs. A file for Yuck, Strength and Pace. My Goal was to qualify for Boston. The Yuck file had those runs that SUCKED, where I did not feel well but pushed through. If I felt a bit down during the Marathon I would think "This is nowhere near as bad as my 23 mile training run on HILLS with an upset stomach." There are also those amazing training runs where you are in the zone, where race pace feels natural. Those runs I filed away as confidence builders and committed those to memory the night before the race. Thinking "This is how you will feel on race day."
- HAVE A PLAN!!- There are so many elements that can go crazy on race day. So you should go in with a plan. For fuel, water, support, etc. As your mind gets tired it will be harder to think. Have a plan, try to follow it and check in with your body along the way, adjust where needed.
- Count up, Count Down, Count all Around- While you are training think about the best way to count. Do you like to count up or count down? Break things into sections, time, etc. For me if I think about Time I get freaked out!! So I have to count down. Internally thinking "I ONLY have 7 miles left" is much easier to accept than over an hour remaining. Use the same counting every time to avoid thinking in terms that will push you down.
- Visualize the FINISH- 1 mile, 5K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Ultra and beyond it is all the same, you are running for the FINISH LINE!! When I have a Goal I imagine that Finish Line over and over. Always with the same positive end. I think about how it will feel to reach that Goal. The pride, the joy, the pain, the fatigue... During my training the last .1 is always that visualization of the FINISH LINE. Smile for your picture folks, this is the line you have been training to cross.
I have more, but I am sure that is enough for the day. The key here is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU TO KEEP YOUR BRAIN RUNNING POSITIVE!!!
- What tricks work for you??