You’ve all heard it. That guy or that lady is mentally tough. They’ve got a hard head.
How do you get that tough mentality when you get close to quitting or easing of?
I’ve seen a lot of athletes through the years that make up for physical ability with great mental tenacity.The athlete that has got both will obviously be hard to beat!
So how do you get better between the ears in training and racing?
With Comrades coming up. And for those who are running. How do you stay mentally on it the last 25km when the race is made or lost?
Here are a few ideas.
• You race the way you train. Training smart will give you the confidence that you will have the legs in the last quarter of the race. Challenging sessions and simulations builds physical but also mental reserves.
• The flipside is to get to the race well rested. To be mentally fresh and hungry, you have to give the body and mind time to build up reserves for the fight. Taper the right way.
• Train the mind. Every day. Lie on your bed. See yourself succeed and achieve the time you are aiming for. Believe it when you see it. Every day. See yourself feeling strong going through 25km to go and bouncy through 10km to go. See the clock at the finish line with the time you want to achieve.
• Focus on the moment. When training. And when racing.
• Fuel your mind. With positive images and input.
• Eat and drink enough. If you dehydrate, your body will tell your mind to stop the bus. Your mind needs carbs to function straight. Take at least 50g of carbs in an hour.
• Pace according to your condition. It’s not going to matter how hard your head is if you go out at a 5h30 pace, but you are in 8 hour shape. Be realistic and finish strong. Be patient for the first two thirds of the race.
• Get a mantra for the race. It helps you to get in the zone. Focus on the fall of your feet. Or the swinging of your arms. Or your breathing. Get a mantra that will help you when the going gets tough. ‘Relax for the max’ ‘Calm and confident I run like a champ’. Or just saying to yourself ‘Focus, Focus, Focus, Relax, Relax, Relax.’
• Bite the bullet. When it really gets sore. Absorb it. The pain is part of it. Feed of the pain. Slow down a little and then build the pace up slowly until it is almost unbearable. That’s the point where you are going to race at your best.
• Get spiritual. Comrades or Ironman or any Ultra for that matter is a spiritual experience. You get an opportunity to look deep into your soul and face your fears and your inner demons.
You have to have some spiritual resolve to face those foes!
• When it gets tough. Congratulate yourself. Praise yourself. You are part of a small family that is willing to stay in the cauldron when it is getting hot!
• And lastly Like Churchill said. If you feel like you are going through hell, keep going. Never, Never, Never give up.
And remember to smile and have fun while you do that!