I’m gearing up to teach my second round of Race Fit this week at Fit Athletic Club and my goal is to help the group become better runners in 6 weeks! I’m going to push them harder than they would on their own (that’s the benefit of a trainer!) and take them through workouts to get them faster and stronger. This month I read a good article in Runner’s World about mental breakdowns. I have to remind myself of these things too, because so often we can let our minds get in the way of our body’s performance. I hope that you will keep these in mind during your workouts, so that when it’s time for your next race you will be calm, have less anxiety and will do your best. After-all, races should be fun!
Brain Drain – The big 5 mental breakdowns
(from Runner’s World, March 2011)
MENTAL BREAKDOWN #1: Seeking perfection
If you aim to make every workout perfect, you end up spending valuable time and energy recovering from the inevitable disappointment. Learn to view a few off days as part of the training process, or a lousy run or race as a learning experience, says Stan Beecham, Psy.D., a sports psychologist in Roswell, Georgia.
MENTAL BREAKDOWN #2: Caring too much
Some runners never feel good about themselves, no matter how well they run. “I remind athletes that running is something they do, not who they are,” he says. Once you untie yourself from your performance, you release mental energy that can be directed to running.
MENTAL BREAKDOWN #3: Stressing out
Is the weather too cold? Too hot? Are the lines at the porta-potties too long? Don’t stress over things you can’t control. “Your performance is based on your training, not on external items,” he says.
MENTAL BREAKDOWN #4: Poor goal setting
Performing at your highest level requires risk-taking and pushing yourself outside your comfort level. “A lot of runners underestimate themselves,” Beecham says. “They say: ‘I can cut five minutes from my time.’ I say: ‘How about 10 minutes?'” Don’t go crazy, but push yourself.
MENTAL BREAKDOWN #5: Not focusing
If you approach a race as a run or with a let’s-see-what-happens attitude, you risk not meeting your goal. “You have to engage mentally,” Beecham says. Set small goals, such as staying with the runner in front of you. Try it, he says, and you’ll likely find the race goes by faster than expected. Your time just might be faster, too.