Matters of the mind

Posted on October 31, 2012


Think back to any low moment in your life, in a race or otherwise, when you’ve suddenly and successfully been able to lift yourself up again. On the flip side, think of those low moments when you haven’t done this. In a race scenario, the result would be, at best, poor motivation and a rubbish performance … and at worst, a DNF.           

Safe to say then that the mind is an essential toolkit to a successful sporting life … and within it, effective visualisation is a pretty powerful tool. The most physically trained athletes can still lose if they can’t pull themselves back together during mentally tiring moments. These moments hit us all at different times during an event and there’s no way round them other than to adopt the right attitude to deal with them. For this very reason, I personally focus as much on the mental component of training as I do the physical.

In fact, a fascinating study once done on Olympic athletes demonstrated this perfectly:

  1. The 1st group of athletes did 100% of physical training and no mental training at all
  2. The 2nd group did 75% of physical and 25% of mental training
  3. The 3rd group did 50% of physical and 50% of mental training
  4. The 4th group did 25% of physical and 75% of mental training

Who performed best in the race?

The athletes from the 4th group.

The techniques for effective visualisation remain same for every runner. What is unique however are the pictures you personally create, your own visions and your own ideas.

In addition to the visual aspects of the race, consider the auditory and kinaesthetic elements i.e. the noises and voices around you as well as how you’re feeling during different areas of the race course. Remember my recent post about NLP? Conjure up images that are so detailed, you’re almost transported there … allow them to manifest into reality, your race day reality.

Affirmations can supplement your visualisation.  I’m a big believer in affirmations and have ready in my pack, as I type this very post, my little laminated card of race affirmations.  I shall read them pre race whilst I tuck into my Forrest-fuelling porridge. Bear in mind that affirmations should always be in the present tense and first person … ‘I feel strong’, ‘I will survive and thrive’ and my personal favourite, ‘all I need is within me now‘ … thanks to the utterly awesome Yvette Franzos from Breathe Believe Pilates. Allow your own chosen affirmations to reflect your beliefs and immerse into your subconsciousness.

I write this as I await my flight to Kathmandu for this weekends Action Asia 100km in Manaslu. My physical training has been minimal but in mind, I feel strong. Just yesterday afternoon, I put my workload aside, my to do list away and my mac to sleep before heading to the sauna for some quiet ‘me’ time … there I totally zoned in on the days ahead of me and readied myself to run like Forrest. And that my dear readers, I now feel 100% ready to do!

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
- Mahatma Gandhi


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