Quick And Dirty Running Tips Every Friday - Mental Toughness
I rode my bike to work today and Auckland was doing its best to slow me down with a strong head wind for most of my ride. I would never ride in unsafe conditions but today the conditions were just difficult. I try to see it in a positive light that difficult conditions will hopefully improve my mental toughness. But is this right, and am I even understanding what mental toughness actually is?
It makes sense though that if you're able endure more mentally, it could be the key to improving or helping you run faster.
Understand What It Means To Be Tough. Sports Science Researchers define it as psychological flexibility and define it as the ability to make a conscious decision based on once's chosen values to persist or change course in the midst of challenging situations. So teaching your self to be more mentally tough is learning to respond to distressful situations thoughtfully instead of immediately reacting or giving up.
Have A Plan. What will you do if things get a little tough. Think ahead and plan for a scenario where you are struggling in a run and make yourself a mental plan on how you are going to get through it. For example, promise to run for the next 5 minutes and you will then let yourself walk for one minute. Or maybe slow down you pace for the next 3 kilometres and you then see how you feel.
Train Even When You Don't Want To. Just like I did this morning, instead of getting a lift to work or catching the bus, getting out in the crappy weather gave me the opportunity to test my mental toughness in these conditions.
Embrace Pain, But Don't React To It. Don't try to fight against it as it then turns into suffering. You can practice this through meditation. Be aware of the pain, accept it, sit with it and then move on.
Develop a Mantra. Repeat the mantra so that it occupies the brain enough to help you get through the pain. This is similar to our first point, but in this instance we are trying to use distraction during difficult times.
Stress Your Body. Remember to then let yourself recover to allow you body to grow. This comes with consistent long term training where you allow yourself time to achieve your goals and grow as both a person and an athlete.
About the Author
Hey I'm Vince, an Aussie living in New Zealand, trying my best to make the most of the time I have. I work as a Software Engineer but love to run and all aspects of it, including geeking out on the latest science to help get the most out of my body.