As the Queen City Marathon is now 2 weeks away we wanted to share with you some strategies that we have used to help our athletes prepare for racing.
Over the next 10 days leading up to the event we will be posting a series of articles geared to help you get the most out of your race experience and perform your best!
The first performance pillar is one of the most neglected aspects of performance...
The six inches between your ears. A.k.a - your mental game.
Now most athletes (if you are registered for this event you are an athlete) focus on getting the physical training done.
Long runs, check.
Tempo runs, check.
Speed runs, check.
However, if you believe this is all you need to perform at your best on race day, think again. I have seen many athletes talk themselves out of a great performance before and during a race because of self doubt, focusing on negative thoughts, or being overcome by nerves.
Whatever to choose to believe in the moment you will make a reality.
Mental performance is a vital aspect of being able to successfully navigate the self induced pressure to perform, the elements (i.e., wind, rain, heat, cold), terrain (i.e., hills, flats, corners), and environment (i.e., other racers, crowds, etc.).
You can drastically enhance your ability to be mentally ready and thereby give yourself the best chance to achieve your ideal result by practicing these 5 strategies now:
- Visualize your race day - Use this time leading up to the race to visualize every aspect of your race day. Waking up feeling good, putting your race gear on, arriving at the event, warming up feeling relaxed, controlled, and ready. Then, getting called to the start line feeling confident, grateful, and focused. Smooth and strong during your run and fast and powerful as you cross the finish line with your arms raised with a profound sense of satisfaction. By rehearsing each aspect many times before you will make it feel familiar on race day.
- Use your course resources to help create your visualization - You have access to the course maps here. Use the course maps to visualize different sections of the race. For example, for the half marathon, break the race up into 4x5km sections. Visualize how you will feel and perform in each section. An even better strategy you ask? If you live in or near Regina you can do your last couple long runs on the course. I suggest doing using the last half of the course for your long run so you can use what you see and experience of these sections in your visualizations prior to the race. Plus you will know exactly what to expect on race day because you took the time to learn the course.
- "What if" exercise - see the details of your ideal race performance, and then imagine any potential twists the event might take (wind, rain, cramping, etc.). Now imagine your ideal response to each of these twists. By rehearsing your response to these twists you set yourself up to still perform regardless of the circumstances that arise before and during the event.
- Use pass successes to visual future performance - Practice physical manifestations of what your ideal performance will look and feel like. For example, every morning you look in the mirror raise your arms and imagine yourself crossing the finish line feeling strong and powerful. Take a picture of yourself after a training session leading up to the race practicing your best finish line celebration. This may seem silly but it instills a positive vision of performance in your mind. Imagine the reality you want.
- Frequency matters - See it. Believe it. Make it happen. Rinse and repeat. Look at your pass successes in training and racing leading up to this event to model how you want to feel and perform. Use every opportunity to practice these powerful visualizations - during your commute to work, while brushing your teeth, having a shower, getting dressed, walking the dog, going to the post box - wherever and whenever you can. The more frequently and purposefully you incorporate these visualizations into your preparation increases your opportunity for achieving your ideal race performance.
You are a strong and powerful athlete. Now own it!
P.S. Join our 2 day running clinic in the lead up to QCM. Registration into this clinic includes video analysis of your running technique, race day nutrition, and race planning educational webinars. Space is limited so register now. For more information and to register click here.