Tips for Running a 10K with a Winning Mind
The Winning Mind is the Winning Edge
1) Use goal setting. It allows you to focus on what is in your control.
A) Goal setting improves performance by helping to clarify expectations and relieving boredom and it increases self esteem and self confidence.
B) Goal setting helps to clarify your mental and physical plan. It guides you through the process and allows you to see not only how far you’ve come but where you need to go. It’s your performance map.
C) The key is to set goals that focus on performance versus outcome. If you focus on the improving the process you will obtain the outcome you are trying to achieve.
D) Setting goals that are attainable will help push you to be slightly challenged and allows for increased improvement and relief from boredom.
2) Combat pre-race jitters. Once you feel those pre-race jitters creep in, take a moment to focus on something else: e.g. think about your favorite running place (e.g. beach, woods, mountains, city, etc.). Remember that place and the feelings associated with that place. When those jitters return take yourself back to that experience. This will help break the pattern of nervousness and anxiety and changing that will not only change your response to nervousness and anxiety but it will relax the tension in your muscles, release your mind from negativity and bring your heart rate down.
3) Get rid of negative thinking. I am tired; I can’t do it; I want to quit. Your mind has control over your body so if you are saying to yourself ‘you can’t’ then you probably won’t. Practicing the use of ‘I can’ will help push you much farther and make you feel better and stronger. In your next workout pay attention (awareness) to any negativity that might be going through your mind. You can change negative thoughts that affect your behavior negatively when you are aware of them. When you return home write down what you can remember. Now make a list of positive words or short phrases that you could use to replace those negative thoughts. Writing helps generate positive feelings, reinforces that there is a positive side and helps you to remember your positive words or phrases to replace the negative ones; it’s hard in the moment to come up with something positive when the negative seems so all consuming. During your next workout once you notice those negative thoughts, try to replace them with something from your list of positive words or phrases. With practice you should begin feeling better about your workouts and see improvement in your performance.
4) Dealing with race anxiety part I. This is what I call the ‘should have’s’. Let’s be realistic: if something has already happened during your race can you do anything about it (the should have’s)? There is nothing you can do about the past. Instead of worrying and reminiscing about what you ‘should have’ done, stay in the present. The present moment needs your attention. Getting stuck in the past does not free you up for the present which means you aren’t able to react and respond as you need to. It narrows your focus and concentration, tightens your muscles, increase your heart rate, increase your breathing, etc. When you feel yourself slipping into the ‘should have’s’ take a moment to refocus on something in the moment: how your body feels, your technique, or focus on your breathing.
5) Dealing with race anxiety part II. This is what I call the ‘what if’s’. The ‘what if’s’ are similar to the ‘should have’s’ because it takes your focus, concentration and energy away from the task. Again lets be realistic: how important is it for you to worry about something that hasn’t happened but more importantly might not ever happen. Worrying about something that might not happen takes a lot of energy and generally when you worry, you worry about the ‘worst case senario’. How many times has the worst case scenario ever happened to you? I’ll bet never. Similarly to the ‘should have’s’ the ‘what if’s’ does not free you up for the present which means you aren’t able to react and respond as you need to. It narrows your focus and concentration, tightens your muscles, increase your heart rate, increase your breathing, etc. Refocus your energy and attention on being in the moment through some deep breathing and positive thinking.
6) Some last thoughts:
A) Act as if this is merely another workout with friends.
B) Remember no matter what, only good will come from the event whether you obtain your PR or you learn something from the experience.
C) Mentally separate yourself from thoughts of winning and losing. Race like a child by enjoying the challenge of the event.
D) Learn to trust your training experience in order to allow yourself to perform at near maximal ability without undue effort or pain.
E) Stick to your physical and mental plan!
Written by Dr. Michelle Cleere. Dr. Michelle Cleere is owner of Sports Minded, a sport, exercise & clinical psychology consulting practice. She works with individuals in person, by phone or e-mail and also conducts group workshops. She is an NASM-certified personal trainer and a USAT-certified triathlon coach. You can e-mail her at [email protected] or visit her web site at http://sportsminded.webs.com/