|Flying Pig Wellness Team
The Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon’s Wellness Team wants to get you ready for your next big event, whether it’s your first or your 21st. This week, the topic is getting into the right frame of mind to complete your event and have fun doing it.
By Betsy M. Ross
There’s always a level of excitement and anticipation right before you participate in an event, from a 5K to a full marathon. It’s one thing to have your body ready to go, but what about your mind? Dr. Barbara Walker, a sports psychologist and member of the Flying Pig Wellness Team, talks about getting your mind fit, as well:
I’ve trained for weeks for my event: Why is it important to work on my mental training?
The mental aspects of performance are equally as important as the physical aspects. Your level of relaxation, efficiency of breathing and what you are thinking about during your run makes a difference in the quality of your run. Once your training is complete and you begin your race, it’s where the mental work really begins.
I’ve never run anything longer than a 10K. What should I expect to go through emotionally in a longer distance?
Recognize going in that you may not be able to go the same pace as a shorter race. As you get fatigued during your longer race, you may begin a downward spiral, which may look a bit like the following: Self-doubt, negative self-talk (“I can’t do this”), discarding of your goals, and then disappointment at the finish line. To avoid that, I recommend checking in with yourself regularly, making sure you are maintaining good form, saying positive and inspiring words or phrases to yourself, and keeping your overall goal in mind at all times.
So how do I prepare the weeks before an event to put myself in a good frame of mind?
I would suggest implementing mental skills into every run you do, but it is especially important from about three weeks out up until your race, particularly visualization and relaxation skills. When you visualize, use as many senses as you can, picturing and feeling yourself going through the motions of different points within your race, relaxed, strong and easy!
The night before any event, I hardly sleep a wink. Is that nervous excitement good or bad for me?
Losing sleep the night before a race isn’t the greatest, but it is usual, so just plan for it. Knowing this may happen, I suggest making sure you get a good night’s sleep several nights beforehand just in case. Your positive energy and adrenalin will take you through race day. Sometimes, one’s nervous energy is there for a couple of weeks before a race. It is very important to recognize this and relax yourself as quickly and as often as you can so that your energy is reserved for your race.
The day of the race there are so many details to worry about. What do I need to do so I’m not rushed the morning of the event?
When athletes or people in general get nervous, their attention becomes scattered and as a result, they forget and lose things. When we allow ourselves to get rushed, it may also make us nervous. For race day, I recommend that you lay out and pack all of your race gear the night before; this includes any fuel you are planning to use throughout the race. Plan what time you want to comfortably be at the starting line and back up from there. Make sure you are moving slowly and easily during the morning preparation routine with little thinking or stress, so as to start your race with minimal anxious energy.
So I’ve trained well, but there still might be a part of the race when I get frustrated or discouraged. How do I get myself through those tough times on the course?
I suggest using cue words and visual body scans throughout the race. Cue words are almost like a mantra that you can use rhythmically while you are running. I would suggest words that are positive and energetic, such as “powerful,” “strong,” “relaxed.” Say these words occasionally to yourself throughout the run. A visual body scan is visually relaxing your body from head to toe, focusing on relaxing any muscles that may feel tight. Also, make sure you are holding your body in a relaxed position—in particular, your shoulders, arms and hands.
Yea, I finished! I wasn’t first, but I wasn’t last, either! I feel pretty good about myself—how do I keep those positive vibes going when I get back into training?
Soon after your race, decide what you did well and didn’t do well, then make a plan for improvement. Setting a goal for a more challenging time or a longer race will allow you to stay motivated for the next one!
The Flying Pig Wellness Team is a panel of health, wellness and exercise experts offering advice to runners and walkers on nutrition, mental preparation, cross training and injury prevention. Find out more about the Flying Pig Wellness Team at www.flyingpigmarathon.com