The importance of mental wellness and strength for runners
Mental wellness and strength can help support your physical strength and endurance, help you reach your health and fitness goals faster, make it easier and pleasant. Here are some tips to help build new motivation, confidence and add some major achievements in your training and your life. When training for long-distance, or shorter but more intense races, runners need to build up their mental wellness and strength to achieve their goals, build up their physical and mental endurance to feel stronger until the finish line. When running an ultra-race, after 50-60km our mental wellness starts to get more negative if we haven’t trained properly to build it up. To maintain great energy levels, and be able to manage our muscle fatigue and soreness, our mental strength needs to be trained to reach higher levels of wellness and positivity. Once you’ve set up and organized your training goals for the year, or signed up for some races that you are aiming to accomplish and finish strong and happy, now you have to start adding some good mental wellness to your training, to make everything better and easier. Running long-distance race or longer distances that our body is used to is challenging physically and mentally.
10 Mental wellness tips for training
- Positive images:When you are training, use your positive mental images throughout your run to add feelings of strength and power. If you are on your way up a hill or mountain, visualize someone at the top pulling you up, or imagine a magnet pulling you up, this will make it feel more effortless and easier. If you’re going downhill, visualize yourself with wings, to feel like you’re flying down. Running on the flat, visualize a strong runner just in front of you, sharing his energy to help you move faster. Using visualization before, during and after your training, will help build confidence and motivation.
- Positive thinking:When training, make positive self-statements regularly. Negative thoughts while running is common, become aware of these thoughts at the beginning of your run, don’t fight with these thoughts as it will increase the negativity, simply acknowledge their presence and substitute them with positive thoughts. During a long-distance run or intense training when you start thinking “my legs hurt so much, I just want to lie down and quit” remind yourself that this feeling is connected with getting your muscles stronger, healthier and achieving your best- keep going!
- Focus on the present:When training, focus on being in the present moment. Remind yourself to stay here and now, focus on the running course, what you are dealing with, focus on what you have to activate physically to feel strong in the present. Don’t think about past mistakes, or worrying about what is ahead, forget about the past and the future. Be right here, right now and right on. If you’re going up thousands of steps and feel tired, keep reminding yourself “keep going, one step at a time”, and don’t keep looking up that is a version of the future! During a long-distance race, having to run many kms on the flat concrete can be challenging for some runners, just keep telling yourself “keep going, the more I move, the faster I will get to the next section”!
- Use everything as an advantage:When your training, use every as an advantage, if a similar pace runner passes you, stick behind and use his energy to keep up and stay motivated. You may catch a “second wind”, which we need many times when running an ultra-race.
- Split your targets- Break your training goals into small targets, or your run into sections so you can focus on one portion at a time, not the entire run. Remind yourself regularly “I am relaxing and keeping my good pace until the next checkpoint”.
- Scan your body:During a long or intense run, we have to keep paying attention to our running form and tension level. Scan your body regularly, relax your tight muscles frequently. Ask yourself, are my hips tights, my glutes disengaged, are my shoulders and neck tight, is my running pace feeling good? Keep sending energy to your legs, your heart, and brain!
- Use pain as an effort:If you feel “good pain or soreness” during your run, the pain is the effort used by your muscles, it is not damaging your body, just focus on your breathing or running form and cadence, that will allow the discomfort to fade away. Remind yourself “I know how hard I am going, what my pace feels like, how my body is doing and what it should be doing to keep me going”!
- Disconnect from the outcome:Only focus on what you need to do right now; your pace, your breathing, your concentration, your fueling. The finish line, your finishing time will take care of itself, focus on the moment.
- Ignore distractions:Distractions can cause some negative issues; fall, injuries, body crashing, loss of energy. Take deep breaths, refocus on the present moment and what is important to achieve your goals and keep going.
- Appreciate your strength:Enjoy your strength and endurance level and positivity, remind yourself that you can achieve your goals, keep smiling, feel confident, and you will get to the finish line feeling so proud of yourself!
Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!