I’ve wanted to write this post for a few weeks and I am finally getting around to it. In what I hope is a few part series, I am touching on the off-season and the areas I feel are important to address. For me being positive and having mental toughness is something I know I should continue to improve on if I want my experience in running and life to progress. There is an old saying that running is 90% Mental 10% Physical. While I think that is more or less not entirely accurate, mental still plays a huge part in your day to day running. Heck your mental state plays a huge part in your day to day life and negativity is one of the worst influences to affecting your mental state in both running and life. We all have that person who is just negative about everything. While we think they aren’t affecting us, deep down their negativity may be influencing us. A simple comment about this weather sucks, or this hill is large can sometimes be a negative experience went uttered too much. Negativity can snowball without much help from us besides our subconscious thoughts running rampant, and it’s why staying positive can help us get past it.
We all do it on a day to day basis something happens and we think a negative thought, about an interaction with someone, about not being able to accomplish something. We let our poor training performances or when things are seemingly always going wrong let us continually get down on ourselves. That first negative thought creeps in that's the point we need to address this type of thinking or next thing we know down the road it’s one of the reasons we can’t accomplish something. Even more it sometimes takes us down to dark path where we think there is no way out of this spiral. Let’s take a running perspective, think back to your last major race where you didn’t achieve your goal. Think to a time in the race you faced adversity and how your mind was. How did you handle it? I know in some of my major failures in racing, the minute the negativity crept in and I let a thought like “I can’t hang with this group” or “This feels too hard” and that I didn’t squash that thought immediately things start spiraling soon after. A little further down the road when things were not feeling better more negativity crept in and next thing I know I am blowing up and missing my goal. Some of these times I was perfectly capable of running the pace, but because I mentally defeated myself I could not overcome. So how do we fix this?
Just like we run long runs, workouts and easy days to train our physical we need to train our mental side also. Some people have a tendency to be very positive people and already excel at this but for us mere mortals sometimes it takes some work. Mental toughness and positivity are things that require work in real life and in running. My wife’s career always points to coping skills on how you deal with negative thoughts or feelings because how you deal with it is all that matters. In running it’s the same but it’s something you need to train otherwise every time something doesn’t go your way in a race/training run, or you don’t feel as fresh as you think you should it can snowball out of control. Bracing yourself is a coping skill we use in everyday life and one that can easily be applied in running. We brace ourselves every day for unpleasant activities that are to follow. We expect the worst to hopefully create a more positive experience. In running sometimes we hope that because we trained harder and got faster our next race won’t hurt like the last one or this training run will feel easy. But since we as runners know perception of effort is mysterious and one race can feel easy and one can feel harder if we brace that every run will hard and embrace that we can prepare better from the start. Entering a race anticipating that at some point things won’t feel great but that’s just part of the process allows us to be prepared. Also sometimes just putting yourself in the moment and thinking through the race and how when adversity will hit how you will react can be something good to try and practice. Relax, take a deep breath and remember all the work you have done to get here. We need a way to deal with our negativity and we need to practice it because otherwise we can throw away months of solid hard training in minutes out in the race.
In the end your mental state plays a huge factor in your running performance. Negativity from any aspect of your life can bring you down as you run. Also not trusting in your training or the work you have done can also wreak havoc as you try and achieve your goals. Practice your mental toughness, practice being positive and focusing on what you can control and next race when negativity creeps in you will be ready to address it and run through it. I’ll leave you with a two part series from running competitor that I really enjoy about mental toughness.
Also a great book I am reading How Bad do you Want it
My Last Week of Training - 68 Miles
Monday 11/9 - 13 Miles at FHR - Adding on the extra Canton loop gets my week started right
Tuesday 11/10 - 6 miles At Lunch 6 miles in the evening 7 x 400 69-72. A week and cold evening ran the 400's in the Hoka's, did not enjoy running that fast in the Hoka's. Not sure what it is about them but they don't seem conducive to fast turnover.
Wednesday 11/11 - 10 Miles pacing a friend through a tempo
Thursday 11/12 - 6.5 miles - Easy day at Lunch
Friday 11/13 - 8 miles at Lunch nice pace
Saturday 11/14 - 13 Miles with Graham, Sean and Colin at Hereford. Gunpowder trails were fun and nice and flat not a ton of roots and very little tripping(I think the Hoka's helped) and then ran the <D XC State Course, blazed the last mile up the dip(it's no bowl and what a dumb name). Fun run
Sunday - 11/15 - 6.5 miles - Nice shakeout run, sore from the day before