Since I’m returning to running after recovering from my (second) eye surgery, I’m readying myself for the race season. I’m very excited because entering races means I’ve gotten back into shape after the long period of bedrest/head-down recovery.
This season, I’m doing a lot of research into the mental aspect of competing or what many people refer to as ‘sports psychology’. I think endurance sports are rife for results based on what our brains are telling us. Attitude certainly must give us an edge, if it’s the right attitude.
It’s a huge subject, and I’ve only scratched the surface with my research, but here are some things I’ve learned so far:
1) Don’t operate on fear. Fear of failure prevents me from doing my best at anything. Thoughts that are based in fear will psyche me out. Instead, focus on desire or what you want to happen. For example, instead of thinking to yourself, “Don’t come in last – don’t make a fool of yourself!”, replace this though with “Start strong, but finish stronger!”
2) Keep thoughts positive. Any negative thinking has the potential to affect my physical feeling. When a negative thought comes into my head, I need to quickly ‘reframe’ it (popular psychology term) or think it with a positive spin. For example, instead of saying to myself that I am going to slowly, I can say to myself ‘I have the energy for a strong finish’.
3) Beware comparison. When I compare myself to slower runners, I may feel better for a moment, but there are more runners that are faster than me then those that are slower, so comparison is the ‘junk food’ of motivation. Instead of thinking that I will never be as fast as the woman who medaled during a specific race last year, I can instead observe her performance and say to myself, ‘I can medal as well, with the right amount of effort.’