Running is 95% Mental

Type: Trying to Fly
Distance: 5.0 miles
Time: 40:10
Average Pace: 8:02 min/mile
Average Heart Rate: 155 bpm

I know, I know, I should have ran this one a little faster. I wanted to finish up with about a 7:40 pace, but I sort of lost it about half way through the run. When I say lost it, I mean I just slowed down. I am pretty confident that I can run about a 38:00 5 miler, but it wasn’t in my legs this morning. With my race coming up on Saturday, it does not bode well for my new PR. Sometimes you just have to resign to the fact that this will be a good race, but without a spectacular result.

On the iPod: Since I am headed back to Maui for work in about four weeks, I went Hawaiian style this morning. “Gimmie Love” by Collie Buddz and “Drop Baby Drop” by Sean Na’auao. My Hawaiian playlist really is one of my favorites. I may not be kama’aina, but man I love the islands.

“Insert Sport Here” Is Really Mostly Mental

I am sure you have read this on other blogs, but let me add my two cents to the discussion. In endurance sports you cannot make it through an event without training your body. The exception to this may be a 5K, but if you want to perform anywhere close to your potential in an event, you have to train your body.

In addition to training your body, you need to train your mind. While I am not talking about training your brain by reading or doing complex math problems in your mind while you are running or cycling, I am talking about using your brain for two functions: to go faster and to push your pain thresholds a little further out.

If you are currently on a performance plateau and just can’t run faster, I would like to suggest that your inability to go faster is all in your head. Sometimes you just need to harden up and run faster. During the first year that I was seriously training and trying to compete I thought I would never run faster than a 10:00/mile pace. During races I would average a 10:00/mile pace and just thought that was the best I could do.

During my second year of running, I started to run with a good friend who was much quicker than I was. He explained to me that the pace I was maintaining during races was all in my head and I needed to start training to run faster. This video pretty much summarizes our conversation.

So if you want to run faster, harden up and just go faster, even if it is just for a block. Maintain that pace as long as you can.

The second mental aspect of training that needs to be address is your pain threshold. Now there is a difference between acute pain that is associated with injury and the type of pain I am talking about. But how far are you willing to push your body to hit your goals during a race? Are you willing to push a little harder, even when you are feeling absolutely drained? These are questions only you can answer.

If I am training, I am willing to really push myself hard so I can change my perspective. If I can realign my pain threshold, what seems tough during training may not be that hard during a race.  The challenge here is pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Can you do that? Can you go harder than you ever have during training?

If you can, that is why they call it racing. I love this video…it captures exactly what I am talking about.

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...