When the run gets tough, the tough keep running.
Mental toughness is arguably just as important as physical toughness to surpassing your physical limits. Just ask anyone who has ever sprinted their last 500 metres even after an already challenging 9.5-kilometre run. Despite their body wanting to slow down, it was the mind that gave it that extra push.
Therefore, realising your goals – achieving that PB time, running across the finish line, running that extra kilometre – requires a strong mind just as much as a strong body. So to help smash your next fitness milestone, be sure to flex your mental muscles and achieve these 4 Cs for optimal performance before your next workout:
Being able to practice control over one’s emotions in the face of pressure and maintain a positive attitude is vital toward optimal performance.
To exercise such control, ensure you take the time to warm up and stretch all the anxiety out of your muscles prior to your workout. You could also try the tried-and-tested act of ‘psyching yourself up’. Such stimulation, through motivational addresses, music and/or video footage and the like increases your degree of physiological and psychological activation to desired performance levels. Muscular relaxation, which introduces a state of mental relaxation, coupled with the activation of mind and body, primes you for the tasks ahead.
Being able to focus on the task at hand while ignoring distractions such as fatigue, anxiety, weather, pain, other runners and negative thoughts – that is concentration.
Centred breathing, positive self-talk and following a clear pre-performance routine are all great ways to get into the mindset needed to concentrate on the set challenge. Mental imagery and rehearsal, also known as visualisation, also comes highly recommended. Imagining yourself making it up that hill, crossing that finish line or going that extra kilometre helps block out the doubts or negativity that can ruin your concentration and hurt your confidence.
Any runner can attest to the fact that ruining concentration over the wrong footwear can be a pain in more ways than one. Proper footwear not only gives you the confidence that you have the right tools for the task at hand, but it also ensures that you won’t be distracted by blisters, joint pain or wear-and-tear when you’re trying to push yourself past that finish line.
However, proper footwear doesn’t just mean high quality and built for your particular purpose. Whilst these are important, having your shoe fit perfectly is vital towards getting the most out of each run and keeping the worry of injury at bay. Take your mind off your shoes and feet, and keep it in your run.
Our top recommendations for the perfect shoe include the latest Brooks Glycerin 15, New Balance 1080, Saucony Echelon and adidas Supernova ST which are all available at your nearest the Athlete’s Foot store.
Visualisation also comes in handy in those inevitable moments when we doubt our ability to succeed. As self-confidence stems from our belief that with our ability we can achieve our goals, using mental imagery to recount hard-fought preparation, previous good performance or to remember the feeling of success can go a long way towards building up one’s self-confidence.
Just remember to avoid comparing yourself to others. There will always be people who you think or actually are better than you. Dwelling on this instead of your own amazing abilities can do very little for your confidence, and even less for your performance.
One cannot hope to perform to their utmost potential without commitment and motivation. Motivation ignites and sustains our willingness to put in the time to learn the skills needs to succeed, to apply and practice such skills and to dedicate the effort needed to improve.
To create (and more importantly, sustain) the motivation needed to achieve your goals, it is suggested that one make SMARTER mini-goals. And by SMARTER, we mean specific, measurable, accepted, realistic, time-framed, exciting and recorded. If your progress is easy to manage, improvement can be seen more easily as well. As improvement is one of the most powerful and sustainable sources of motivation (along with genuine enjoyment, satisfaction and increased self-worth), rest assured that setting and reaching realistic mini-goals will fuel your commitment towards smashing your ultimate fitness goal. Whatever that may be!