Mental Training

Mental training

Mental Training       

Tips for fighting off fatigue and pain

Fatigue and pain limit performance.  The following are some mental tricks that you can play on yourself to keep your mind occupied just at a time when it is searching for reasons to concede to distress!  You can’t outrun fatigue but the idea is that you can bluff your way through it.

1. Recognise any discomfort and talk your way through it (not out aloud otherwise you may get locked up!).

2. At the first sign of any discomfort or fatigue heighten your awareness in that area.  If you feel tightness, for example, in your quads late in a race tighten those muscles momentarily and then let go.  This reduces anxiety, helping fight off fatigue with relaxation.

3. Try repeating a relaxation slogan such as ‘calm, calm, calm’ if you feel fatigue or discomfort setting in.  Find a slogan or set of words that work for you and be ready to use them at key points in your runs.

4. Control discomfort by use of controlled breathing.  If you are struggling focus on deep, steady breathing.  This relaxes you so that you are able to concentrate on effort, not pain.

5. Practice talking to yourself!!  Remind yourself how well you have trained for this race, how much you have been through, the milestones you have achieved on the way etc.  Experiment and find what works for you.

6. Segmenting a race into chunks.  Try counting down distances rather than clocking them up.  In a 10K work down the remaining distance so that you are coming closer and closer to the end of the race rather than thinking you have completed 2,3,4 and then 5 miles etc.  Setting time targets for each mile and then banking those before moving on the next one is another technique you can adopt.

Go on and give it a go.  What have you got to lose????


This is a fancy word for daydreaming.  The difference is that rather than letting your mind wander, you take conscious control and entertain only thoughts that will help your running.  Memorise what it feels like to run correctly then replay that memory over and over again, concentrating on rhythm and flow of good form.  If nothing else, this should make it easier to distinguish good form from bad in actual workouts.  Visualisation is a great technique to use in race preparation runs and then races themselves.  It aids your focus and optimises your ability to perform at your best.  However, just like running itself you need to train your mind to make the most of visualisation.  Try it in lower key training sessions and perfect it before key races.

Crushing those negative thoughts

As runners we will come across a wide range of situations where negative thoughts and self doubts creep into our heads.  The result is impact on our performance and disappointments.  Here are some common scenarios with tips on how to deal with them:

Scenario – Pre-race nerves tend to get the best of you

Solution  – Laugh it off. The butterflies can stike on the night before a race or on the way there.  What we call nerves is actually heightened adrenaline. If you are really nervous before a race you will spend an excessive amount of mental energy thinking about it. If you suffer from race day nerves turn your attention to something that will elicit a completely different emotion.  For example, download your favourite comedy moment to your phone and play it before you race.  Laughing helps restore emotional balance and reduces stress.

Scenario – You always struggle with hills

Solution – picture yourself. get a running partner to take a picture of you running up a hill.  Smile broadly as if you are loving it! (even if you are not!)  Save the picture as a screensaver or home page and every time you use your phone/mobile device you will see yourself running the hill and loving it!

Scenario – you’ve hit a racing or training plateau

Solution – get your head in the books. Take comfort in the fact that the very best athletes go through periods where they struggle to reach their performance potential.  Read up on famous athletes who have coped with challenges over the course of their career.  Learn from the best and get inspiration!

Scenario – you want to give up during a race

Solution – stick it on!  Think of a time when you have wnated to give up but have stuck at it and seen it through.  Write down those thoughts on a post it pad with comments as to what you did to overcome the challenge.  Stick the note inside your running shoes. The note will be there every time you go training.

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