Updated: Dec 8, 2020
There are a million quotes out there that convey the importance of the mind in our physical pursuits.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”
“Sport is 90% mental and 10% physical”
“Where there’s a will there’s a way”
What none of these quotes show is that cultivating the mental resilience, strength, and confidence to go out there and perform your best is absolutely a critical component of training. Whether you are consciously training for this purpose with mindfulness techniques and neuroplasticity exercise or you are unconsciously building confidence in your abilities through a thoughtful and well-designed training plan, the mental component of your training cannot be overlooked or underestimated if you want to be successful in your goals.
I have, at times, been very successful using the tools below and seen huge benefits to my training and racing. Hell, during any Ultra-marathon I have run, I have always told my crew that their most important job is to make me smile. (pictured below they did a good job and I was all smiles... and finger guns at the during the Leadville 100)
Keep me positive, keep me smiling, and I will keep my legs moving.
(seriously, this 2018 paper in the "Psychology of Sport and Exercise" covered this exact topic. They examined the effects of smiling and frowning on exercise)
Every time you push past that thought of “it’s too cold” or “my legs are a little sore,” you are building the mental resilience needed to push a bit harder than the other girl late in a race. Every time you tell yourself “You’ve got this” or “stay with it” during a hard interval, you are building your skills of positive self-talk that will help you when you are staring at the “wall” at mile 20 of a marathon.