As I am currently tapering for a Marathon, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to discuss the mental side of running and building on mental strength. Life is busy sometimes and it can be tough. It can be tough to balance life, work with numerous hobbies! When I look at the women that surround me, they are not only physically strong, they are mentally strong…
I am such a mental runner and recognise the signs of when I start losing my head, usually when my inner voice is telling me ‘everything is hurting’, ‘slow down’, ‘you’re too old for this’, ‘give up’, ‘stop running’. This is where mental strength kicks in, when the little voice in my head gets shut down and I keep pushing.
If you are a runner, you are stronger than you ever know. When your alarm wakes you up for Parkrun or a training run on a weekend morning and you choose to get up rather than snoozing your alarm, ran in the wind or rain or you have swapped gin for a soft drink, you have built on your mental strength.
Pushing on with the training when you don’t want to, one more rep, one more hill, 10 more minutes, one more mile all help develop your mental strength and grit. Running is tough, we run through all weathers and despite obstacles of what is going on in our lives. Running allows us to forget, to be strong.
Some of my friends use mantras to get them through tough races. My good friend Emma (@Vegangirlthatruns) counts whilst going up a tough hill. (I’ve tried this but end up swearing and forget what number I was on) I’ve got other friends who have motivational quotes that they repeat in their head on a loop. Some even say their mantras out loud. A fellow runner was running a marathon and shouted out her mantras to herself and found she had quite a following.
Running isn’t always perfect, sometimes our body just doesn’t want to. this is where positive thinking comes in and remembering all the good runs you have had. Its easy to feel let down when your body doesn’t want to… and during this time it’s good to remember the runs where you have smashed it, felt strong and it all felt effortless.
There is so many ways of developing on your mental toughness – mostly by varying your runs so they provide different paces, efforts and locations. These all build on your mental toughness by making you physically stronger and more confident.
Its important to remember that your mind is designed to scan for danger and so any areas that throw you into an area of discomfort is where the task of developing mental toughness begins. This is when it becomes a case over body versus mind! Tolerating the brain to deal with the uncomfortable moments will take you to a whole new level of mental toughness! Perfect for race day!
Tapering is always tough on the mind – I am currently worrying about whether I have done enough training, whether I should be getting some junk miles in (just in case) but it’s just my mind playing tricks on me. A good friend of mine recommended that I read the Chimp Paradox to help me with any mind demons https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chimp-Paradox-Management-Programme-Confidence/dp/009193558X I have this on order!
What exercises do you undertake to ensure you are mentally strong for race day and training runs. What has given you mental grit to keep going? I would love to hear all about it!