Guest post by Moms on the Run Coach Gabe Cox
So, you're training for a race. Whether it's a 5k, a half marathon or the full 26.2, the physical training begins months in advance. But there's one area of training that you cannot overlook: mental training. Can you see yourself at the finish line? What time is on the clock? How do you feel? What’s going through your mind? What is the crowd like? Who’s with you? These questions are great visualization exercises to prepare yourself for an upcoming race and assist you in affecting the outcome.
Preparation is Key
As a coach for Moms on the Run, I pride myself on helping mother runners break down mental barriers so they can achieve their goals. I know all women come into the program with different goals and ideals, and my job as a coach is to draw out the winner that’s inside — incorporating a fun atmosphere and friendship-building in the process!
While training to achieve a Boston Qualifying time at the 2015 Grandma’s Marathon, here were some key visualization strategies I added into my training -— and still use -— that make all the difference:
1. Know the Course
Our very own Carrie Tollefson, Olympic runner and MOTR fitness director, produced a short video of the actual Grandma’s Marathon race course where she gives tips and reminders at certain mile markers. I watched that video at least once a week, and in the final few weeks, I increased my viewing frequency to daily. Why? While watching the video, I pictured myself there, running the race, and I envisioned my goal coming to fruition.
You can find YouTube race course videos for many different races, and I highly recommend you check them out as a part of your training. If there isn’t a video, study the course map. There will be unexpected bumps in the road, but we can prepare ourselves to know where each hill is or where the fuel and aid stations are.
2. Visualize Crossing the Finish
At the end of each long training run, I took the time to visualize myself crossing the finish line. I envisioned how I would feel, and I committed to the goal finish time I set before myself. I pictured this until it became so real to me that it was nearly impossible to doubt myself. There were times after long runs that my eyes would swell with tears as I vividly saw myself at the finish line. My imagination became my reality.
On your next training run, near the end, imagine that you’re at the finish line of wherever your next race may be. What are you feeling? Imagine the clock glaring you down. What does it say? Imagine the crowd on the home stretch. What are they cheering? Imagine crossing the line and getting your medal. What matters most at that point? Do you see it? Can you feel it?
3. Plan Some Mantras
A mantra is something that you can speak when you are feeling tired, negative, or defeated. Think of it as a little pick-me-up despite the circumstances. Some of my mantras on race day include:
“I’m worthy, and it’s my time.”
“I’m strong, and my feet are swift.”
“I’ve trained for this moment.”
“The hills make me stronger.”
You talk to yourself more than you talk to anybody else. You are always in your own head. How do we overcome the negativity and doubt that creeps up in our minds? The only way to eliminate a negative thought is with positive words. So don’t be embarrassed! Talk to yourself! The other runners around you will appreciate the encouraging words as well.
Many times we worry more about getting each training run in than we do about the “why” behind them. Physical preparation is key, but being intentional in mental training is just as important. It can make or break your finish. The mental side of racing is what separates runners.
Visualization helps you to believe in yourself and your goals. The more real or emotional the goals feel to you, the more likely you are to attain them. The best part is, it works for all paces and goals!
So, are you ready to get mentally tough? You are a winner. Just run your race!
Gabe Cox is a MOTR coach and a mental training coach. She is passionate about helping others break down mental barriers so they can run their best race, live their best life, and achieve their dreams. Learn more at www.redhotmindset.com.