So, I am under 6 weeks out from my next race (New Orleans Rock and Roll Half Marathon), and coming to my own realization to start kicking into full gear with training. Sure, I’ve been training (technically) for the last couple of weeks- following fairly closely to the schedule I outlined at the beginning. I think, physically, I’ve been on point. I’ve been getting my long runs in, crosstraining (rowing) and strength training (bootcamp!), but I haven’t started to take the time to focus on mental training. I’ve been THINKING a lot about it, about things that are important to me and what I want to share with the general extended world of amazing people who might end up reading this.

So, here goes… my 6 week Mental Strength Half Marathon Training plan. (sure this could go for other races as well: 5k/10k, full marathon, triathlons, etc.—but I also plan on in the future making some more specialized plans for each different endurance race).

Week by week, I'll focus on 6 key steps for Mental Strength Training for runners. This week, we'll start with #1 FOCUS.

Focus: Define Your Goal

This week it’s time to clarify your focus and truly define what your goal is with your upcoming race. Perhaps you signed up weeks ago, and that initial rush and surge of excitement and commitment has since passed…. It’s time to get that back. Time to re-focus on your intention. Let’s start with 5 simple questions:

o   Who? (YOU!!! Any friends, family, running buddies joining you? Or are you tackling this one solo?)

o   What? (Race info, distance. Is this your first race of this distance? A milestone? Celebrating something?)

o   Where & When? (Race info, again. But think about climate and the course…. Do you need to travel to get there? What will that entail? Is it a new race or a new city to you, or happening in your background and on roads you run every day)

o   Why? (this is the big question………. )

 Why did you decide to sign up for this event (just to run another race, because a friend convinced you to, or did you have a clear wellness and mental strength goal from the beginning- to run your first half marathon, to celebrate a birthday, proving to yourself that you can come back after ___________________ (fill in the blank: injury, illness, a breakup, having a baby, etc). Are you raising money for a cause that’s important to you? Challenging yourself at a new distance, or trying to get a PR?

Whatever your reason for signing up for this race, clarify it and remind yourself of it OFTEN. Think about your answers to all the questions above… recognize all the thoughts and feelings that come up (the good ones AND the bad, negative, self-doubting ones). Most importantly, WRITE IT DOWN.

Try the following exercise!

Fold a paper into 4 quarters (any which-way will do, just make 4 sections).

·         In one section, write your goal out in big, BOLD letters.

·         In your second section, put your reasons WHY you are running this race. (could be bullet points, sentences, random words, essay-format…. Doesn’t matter).

·         In the third section, write out all the feelings that are brought up. (this is where you can add in your anxieties and self-doubts, but make sure to include the positive feelings too!).

·         For your forth section, write out what will keep you going throughout training and to get you to the finish line. THIS IS YOUR FOCUS! (part why, part feelings…. What you think about when things will get hard that will keep you going and on track).

 

Then, hang it up!!! On your fridge, next to your training plan, in your bathroom, above your kitchen sink… wherever! Somewhere, ideally, where you can check in with it daily and/or weekly to re-focus your training and remind yourself of your original goal. Revisit it whenever you’re feeling sidetracked or unmotivated.

Here’s what mine looks like for my upcoming race. Feel free to share pictures of yours, or comment about the process below or on Facebook.

 

Running (and any physical challenge) is very much a mental activity, requiring strength, practice and training. Next week we’ll start visualizing our success. But for now….. focus!!!

-k

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