I have a half marathon this weekend in Wisconsin and I’m super excited because the weather is looking fabulous:
I am honestly debating about whether I should wear capris. For a race! I haven’t had to debate this for a race longer than a 5k for a long time.
The other thing that I’m thinking about as I prep for this race —> mental strength. I think this is one of my biggest weaknesses when it comes to racing because for some reason, I am the master at sabotaging myself when it comes to when you need the best mental strength.
How much does mental strength matter when it comes to races?
Well that depends what you read:
- In distance running, the mind only accounts for 14% of racing success, according to new research
- Some psychologists say that mental toughness (or “grit”) may be the defining factor between finishing at the front of the pack and not finishing at all
- A motto from a SEAL: “He would say that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done.”
What makes up mental strength?
I’ve been reading a LOT about this (and talking to quite a few different people for their thoughts too), and I really love how this article puts it:
There are four attributes that make up the belief system of mentally tough performers. The four beliefs are:
(1) Having an unshakable self-belief to achieve goals;
(2) Having an inner arrogance;
(3) Having a belief that you can get over any obstacle;
(4) Having a belief that your desire will ultimately result in fulfilling your potential.
But, how do you get there?
This is the part that I struggle with. How do you build up mental strength? And how do you make sure it keeps your race day plans alive?
The biggest thing goes back to #1… having that unshakable self-belief to achieve goals. If you know yourself that you can achieve that goal that you put in front of you, no matter what happens, you can make it happen. I think this might be my biggest fault –> doubt immediately creeps into my head when I see the weather forecast or I realize that there might be a few more hills than I thought or I hit the middle of the race and don’t feel the best.
I think just like the other aspects of racing, mental strength and fitness is a work in progress. It takes time, practice and dedication to get to that point.
I still remember the first race where I realized that I wasn’t as mentally strong as I thought —> it was mile 9 in the 2012 Brooklyn Marathon, and I started to get down on myself because it was feeling hard. Instead of pushing through the pain, I gave in to that negativity… and I’ve been fighting it ever since.
My goals for blocking negativity
So, this weekend’s race —> my number one goal is to get the negativity out of my head. Here are some of my strategies for making it happen:
- Music. I know, who am I?! I’m going to rock out a playlist for the first time in any race, ever. I love the VolumeMaker headphones right now and can’t wait to tune out the negativity with some of my favorite jams.
- Starting out slow. I talked about this a LOT with my Boston Marathon race strategy and even though the race didn’t go the way that I wanted, I am proud of how I started out. Goodbye fly and die —> that’s not fun for anyone.
- Powering through the hills. The middle section of this race has a LOT of hills. This is where focus will come into play to stay on point when the going gets tough.
- Using a mantra. One of my favorite mantras comes from a shirt I got at Twin Cities Marathon —> Own the run. I like to think of this from the perspective of owning that mile. Just thinking about the mile you are in, and pushing through.
- Focus, focus, focus. I think the music and the mantra will help, but most importantly, I think the ability to focus makes a world of difference. Knowing this will help me kick the want to wander out of my mind and keep it on the task at hand.
What tips do you have for blocking negativity? How do you push through when the going gets tough?
Follow me on Instagram
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Pinterest
Follow me on Facebook