The MK Marathon Weekend is only a few weeks away!! To help you enjoy your challenge, here are some useful mind mastery techniques from BMI The Saxon Clinic Consultant Health Psychologist, Dr Sue Peacock, to get you to past the starting post and over the finishing line.
Dealing with pre-race anxiety:
Feeling a little jittery? Don’t worry, as the majority of runners do, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it their first marathon relay or if they are experienced runners.
Remember you have done all the hard work in your training, the race is for you to enjoy
Be prepared – you know that you have trained properly, now its time to put the finishing touches to it. You might want to look at the course map, so you know what to expect. Use a checklist to make sure you have everything you need including your running shoes and race number! If you pack the night before, this will relieve some of your anxiety on the race morning.
Pre-race rituals are often worth adopting such as listening to music, mediation or specific warm up exercises. Elite athletes use them to manage their anxiety and by practising them regularly it will be familiar and calming for you on race day.
Visualisation – picture yourself running the race, see what you are wearing, hear the crowd cheering you on, see yourself cross the finish line of your part of the relay. This can be practiced a few weeks before the event and will help reduce anxiety as it minimises fear of the unknown as you familiarise yourself with the course and how you deal with anything that might happen.
Try breathing deeply – you have probably noticed that when you get anxious your breathing becomes shallower. If you try breathing from your stomach area rather than your chest, you will feel instantly more calm and relaxed.
Enjoy your run – run without any expectations! High expectations increase anxiety because you place too much pressure on yourself to reach a certain goal. Just focus on running and soak up the atmosphere and you will feel calmer and this might help you run a great race.
Across the start towards the finish
Running is often a mental challenge as much as a physical challenge. Here’s a few tips to help get you through the race…..
When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Remember all the training you have done, the sacrifices you have made and have faith in your ability. Don’t give into self doubt and discomfort.
Picture yourself running the middle or end part of the race. Picture yourself how you want to pose for your crossing the finish photo. If you have a time in mind, then picture yourself with the clock showing the time you want to achieve. Imagine how you will feel when you hear those important people in your life cheer you across the finish; imagine how proud you will feel achieving this feat as a volunteer puts a medal around your neck. This will help keep you going!
Remember that a running a marathon relay isn’t easy! Remind yourself that you are taking on a challenge and that you have prepared for it. Remind yourself that the difficulties you may experience will make crossing the finishing line even more worthwhile and amazing.
Segment your run! Break down the distance into small manageable chunks, for example a mile at a time. Picture yourself running on fresh legs at each segment and focus on getting to the end of your allocated distance.
Talk to yourself! – Think and say to yourself statements along these lines “If this was easy, then everyone would be doing this”; “Keep on running”. Perhaps a mantra might help, picking short phase such as “one step at a time” that you play over and over in your head. This can keep you focussed whilst running and provide that inner motivation when you most need it.
Distract yourself! Do whatever it takes to keep your mind occupied. Sing songs, play number and/or word games, talk to other runners. Look around you at the crowds cheering you on; look at other runners, there is usually someone that looks worse than you feel! Or perhaps pick out someone running for the same cause as you or count how many runners have a certain colour top, just distract yourself from how you feel if you finding it difficult.
Use your imagination! When it’s really tough, imagine that you are feeling relaxed, your running is smooth, graceful and effortless. Imagine you are a world class runner in the lead of the race!
Remember why you are running! Think about that special cause, or that special person which is the reason you have put in all this hard work.
One last tip from me, once you cross the finish line, please don’t kid yourself by saying “I’m never doing this again”; before you know it you will be back at the start of another running event.