The main problem which occurs when people try to engage in any activity is thinking that strength comes only from the outside elements. This puts an extreme focus on physical activity, foods, and supplements. However, sooner or later runners or athletes recognize the importance of a strong mind that comes from within.
How come that we can’t just rely on making our bodies stronger? Because even the strongest runner’s legs won’t be able to push you that one last kilometer, your mind will.
Let’s explore together why you have to develop mental strength for running long distances and which methods you can use to work on your stamina within.
Why Is Mental Toughness Important?
There are many definitions of mental toughness, but one that stands for sure is the ability to WANT to perform. It has become a rarity to find an athlete that engages in activity only for its own pleasure. However, psychological elements have an undeniable effect on our performances. It came to the point that professional coaches started realizing than win can’t be ensured only by physical engagement.
Mental power for runners is significant because it motivates runners and drives them to complete the challenge. It pushes them to their best and through moments when the only choice they think they have is to stop. However, it has to be built and practiced so we listed best techniques you could follow to increase your mental stamina.
Find Proper Motivation
Any goal you set yourself to achieve has to have the right motivation. The problem that many runners face is relating their success to their worth. This oversimplification of running can have a negative effect on your mental state and, therefore, on your performance and loss of motivation. Mental preparation for a long run should include setting an intrinsic goal instead of one focused on results measured in numbers or time. Once you work your own inherent goal, it will help to push you through difficult moments in your running session.
Meditate Your Way to Success
Weapon of calmness, meditation, has also found its way into running. It leaves multiple beneficial effects on runners through teaching them how to stay calm and constant. Meditation can be practiced apart from running, or you can do it while running. Both include profoundly focusing on your breath and recognizing worries you have about running long distance. Staying calm while thinking about your fears will fuel your mind and make it emotionally stronger.
Run Your Way Through Any Weather Condition
Rainy days are days perfect for staying at home, but they are actually perfect to boost your mental strength. That is an ideal opportunity for you to practice your focus, for instance, the marathon day could also be rainy. Running through different weather conditions will help you adjust and avoid fear or panic if the exact running day isn’t sunny. Facing new situations will make you a stronger runner. Not only your body will adapt to running on a slippery road, but you will also teach your mind to focus on your performance rather than everything that bothers it.
Beneficial Visualisation Is Important
We rather tend to focus on negative situations even if we performed ten successful races or practices. One bad race has the power to deteriorate our state of mind completely, and this happens to professionals too. Visualisation has many powerful benefits; try to picture a favorable scenario for the race day, imagine the details, how you feel, and people around you. Repeating this visualisation when you practice will have a boosting effect on your confidence and, therefore, your performance.
Intentional Breathing and Relaxation
There is a lot you can do right before the race to arm yourself mentally. Here are two excellent techniques used to help runners feel energized and immediately stronger.
Deep breathing can contribute to feeling your mind let go of worries. Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose. Feel how the air fills your lungs and hold it for three to five seconds. Then slowly release it and imagine washing away fears, stress or runners fatigue. Highly focus on each breath and repeat it ten times before you start your race.
This technique immediately relaxes specific muscle groups. Actively contract one muscle group and isolate it. Keep the contraction for 10 seconds, relax and let the tension in the muscles go. Focus on the intentionally created tension and feeling of relaxation once you let it go. This method has both mental and physical beneficial properties.
Mental preparation for a long run should be a significant part of your overall training. Following specific techniques and methods can help your build the toughness. Therefore, just remember that mental power is something you can learn.
Mental strength plays a crucial role in achieving great results but, more importantly, it is important so you could feel good about what you do!