Mental Training for Runners: Boosting the Motivation and Running Performance

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Do you suffer from peaks and valleys in your running motivation? Most runners find it hard to keep their training program consistent after a certain point; usually after reaching a peak, the motivation tends to fade away and the determination to run is no longer compelling as it’s used to be beforehand. The reason why this happens to most runners is the lack of proper mental training for running.

Most runners devout too much time training their bodies but totally ignore an important aspect of the training: mental training. If you don’t train your mind to perform at peak level, then the body won’t follow along. Mental training strategies are aimed at achieving the mental edge that can help you usher in greater motivation and consistency for the workout.

As a result, here are two of the most known and underutilized motivation mental strategies:

1. Visualization

This technique is used by world top athletes. It is even used by psychotherapists and other health related intervention specialties. Visualization is powerful because it compels the unconscious mind to behave in a certain predetermined way; this way is usually dictated by the person doing or facilitating the process. See, the human mind doesn’t differ between fantasy and reality, thus if you feed it with enough pictures and commands, it can only follow and set the stage for better mental and physical performance.

Therefore, if you want to use the power of the unconscious mind to help you with your running motivation, you need to get in the habit of visualizing and picturing success with your own running program. The only caveat to make this process work is to visualize the workout AS IF the desired results have ALREADY happened, hence you’ll compel your mind to behave accordingly.

2. Use a Mantra

This may sound spiritual or even mystical, nonetheless, using a mantra while running can help your motivation for the training. A mantra can be one word, a set of words, or just a sound. The way to use a mantra is to keep repeating it silently inside of your head until the other voices shut down and you can only hear the mantra. This technique has been used for millenniums in Indian temples by yogis and sages to achieve total mind control and enlightenment. Today, you can use it to help you with your running motivation.

Any mantra can work as long as you believe in it, and it doesn’t have to be in Sanskrit. In fact, it’s better to use your own language and voice, or you can also borrow some one else’s voice which you find compelling. Here are some of my preferred mantras:

  • Run now, breath now, run now;
  • Push, push, push and push;
  • Keep up, keep up, and keep up. Etc

By the way, a mantra is not an affirmation. You only get to use one at a moment, especially in times of trouble and extreme fatigue. For example: during a hard run when you start feeling you can no longer keep the pace and your body is failing on you, at that moment, you can use a mantra to get your mental edge sharpened and distract yourself from the discomfort and pain.

Nonetheless, safety should be your outmost priority at all times and using the above strategies excessively can increase the likelihood of injury and overtraining; you should never ignore your own body’s signal of pain and discomfort. Keep a keen eye on the way you feel and at the same time use the above technique to help your running motivation remain high throughout the training session. Moderation and smart training are the keys to injury free running.

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