Mental training can have a very important place in the sport of running. Most
athletes realize the need for mental training in other sports but do not
recognize the need for mental training in the sport of running simply because
they donít know how mental training can apply to running. This common
misconception often stems from the fact that running is an individual sport
which is fairly simple and straightforward. With other sports such as baseball
or golf which obviously require a great deal of technique, athletes correctly
assume mental training such as visualization and training for mental focus are
necessary. However, they do not recognize this need in running because they do
not realize the importance of good running form for both speed and efficiency.
This article will provide insight into how mental training can help runners to
improve their performance.
Using visualization to make
changes to technique is worthwhile for runners. There are a number of different
technical elements to running including stride length, positioning of the arms,
breathing and foot positioning which can all be tweaked to make a runner more
efficient. Being able to focus on these elements and make subtle changes is a
highly mental skill which involves a great deal of training. Runners need to be
able to recognize when there is a need for these changes in their form and also
need to be able to determine when the changes they make to their form are
improving the efficiency of the runners form. Some runners use video taping in
an effort to learn more about their current form and to find areas where
improvement is possible. It is also advisable for these same runners to
videotape themselves again after implementing form changes to ensure the changes
they have made are having he effect they expected.
Another part of the mental
training associated with running includes planning a race strategy and devising
a nutritional plan.
The strategy for a race may include the pace at a number of different key
aspects of the race including the start, the finish, hills, flats and sections
of the race in which the runner is attempting to pass another runner. Mentally
preparing for these situations and devising a plan of action for these
situations will help the runner to respond appropriately in a race situation.
The runner may also use mental training to develop a nutritional plan for
training as well as for during races. The nutrition during the training periods
should include a health balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to keep the
runner healthy during training. During a race, the nutrition plan may include
mostly carbohydrates which are quickly absorbed for shorter races. However,
runners may want to incorporate small amounts of protein into their nutritional
strategy for longer races such as marathons or ultra marathons.
Finally, runners can use
activities such as yoga to prepare them mentally for running. Yoga is one
example of an exercise which requires the mind and body to work together and
yoga also encourages meditation and clear thought. Both of these aspects can
help to make a runner more prepared for training and races mentally. Failure to
engage in these types of activities in which the mind is forced to concentrate
on one issue at a time can result in the runner being distracted while running.
This can cause problems to the runners form if it results in the body being too
The video clip above is from my DVD about running stetches and other running related information. Click on the DVD case below to find out more.