Train Like an AMPT Champ – Mental Toughness Tips that Give a Competitive Edge!
“Mental will is a muscle that needs exercise, just like the muscles of the body” – Lynn Jennings.
As runners, we know that running is often “90% mental and 10% physical”, yet it is rare that a run training plan includes mental toughness exercises to practice during each run. That said, it is critical to train the “mental muscle” because it can quite literally make or break your performance and potential PR. Training to become mentally tough will give you a competitive edge come race day that is often overlooked. Check out the techniques below that can be used to help you train like an #AMPTChamp, whether you need a mental boost in the moment or not!
- Master your Mantra!
The way we talk to ourselves during a run matters because attitude truly is everything. When we think negatively and repeat words like “can’t, won’t, etc.” or when we start to doubt ourselves, the body is listening and subconsciously follows suit. It’s no coincidence that in these moments of doubt, we start to slow down or get the urge to walk. The best way to practice eliminating this mindset is to recognize when your mind starts to wander and refocus on a positive mantra including only words of positivity such as “can, will, yes, etc.”. If there is a phrase that particularly resonates, repeat it over and over. The mind and body will follow! While this sounds simple, try it out on your next run and practice speaking positivity only. It may be difficult at first, but eventually it becomes habit and will start impacting your runs for the better!
- Zone Out and Relax
Another tactic is training the brain to relax or focus on other things during your runs. This can be done by listening to upbeat music, a guided run, or by listening to a podcast that is either fun or motivational. Running and podcasting can be taken to the next level by reserving that podcast strictly for running. If the podcast is something you love, you will find yourself getting excited to go run because you are excited to listen to the next episode of said podcast! This same theory can be applied when watching Netflix on a treadmill.
- Visualize the Finish Line
Whether you’re on a training run or racing for a new PR, visualize your end goal. Really imagine what it will feel like when you cross the finish line. What will you have accomplished? How will you feel emotionally? Who will be there? What will you be wearing? What will the weather be? Think of every detail, no matter how big or small, so that you truly feel the excitement. Let that feeling of excitement guide you through tough runs or days when it is hard to get out the door. Not only will this build excitement, but it will take your mind off the fatigue and re-focus with the end in mind!
- Do your homework.
Besides practicing mental toughness during your runs, do a little homework outside of the “classroom”. Mental toughness is something that not only applies to running, but it can also positively impact your entire life! One way to improve mindset overall is to read 10 pages a day from any motivational or personal development book. Dedicate about 30 minutes per day to this and over time, the knowledge you gain will be immense and can be directly applied to your running.
- Finally, change it up!
Change is a good thing! Try running a new route or completing an interval or fartlek run that involves multiple different paces. These changes will keep the mind occupied and focused on the workout rather than any fatigue setting in.
Overall, being mentally tough is something that takes time, patience, and a lot of practice. Remember, “the body achieves what the mind believes”, so keep training your mental muscle each time you lace up and run to help prepare you for race day. These small changes will add up to big results and may even lead to your next PR! You got this!