“It’s all in the mind….” Is a common response from an endurance athlete when faced with the question “How do you it?”. How do you keep going for so long? How do you not give up? How do you not overcome exhaustion, pain and fear? How do you accelerate to the finish line?
There are all types of bodies you will see at ultras, triathlons and endurance events. But one thing they all have in common is… they have the mental drive, control, insight and ability to push beyond their doubts, stereotypes, pain, boundaries and just #getitdone.
So if our minds play such a big part, then how can we train them to function like that of an endurance athlete?
We have put together a list of strategies to help build up our mental strength and lock down a solid mind game.
1- Have professional, structured training and race plans in place. Use the saying and believe it “trust the process”. No need to overthink. Keep it simple and just focus on doing your sessions.
2- Keep it visual. Joe Simpson’s true story Touching the Void, tells us how he broke his leg close to the summit of 6344m Siula Grande in Peru, fell into a crevasse on the way down, was left for dead by his climbing partner. He crawled along a glacier for three days. He picked short-term, visual goals and gave himself a certain amount of time to crawl to it. Once he reached one goal he picked another in the distance until he made it the 5 miles back to his camp in some of the harshest conditions on the planet.
Break it down:
- Think routes you are familiar with (only 5 more park runs to go)
- Use geographical features (the top of that hill, that big tree, the next turn off)
- Time (less than an hour left)
- Percentages (50% done, Past half way now)
3- Train in the sh*t (rain, wind, hills, sand, fully loaded packs, the less ideal the better. With consideration to personal safety). “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”.
4- Be consistent with training. Build faith in your bodies ability and fitness.
5- Use logic against mental excuses (toilet breaks, hydration, food, fatigue).
6- Know your pain. Is it fatigue or is at an injury. It may help with rational decision making.
7- Train socially. Build connection, enjoyment and a love for what you are doing.
8- Minimise the pain zone. Pace yourself. Think of the 99km’s after that hill.
9- Tame the beast. It if hurt you in training ….. do it again. Didn’t like the hill, turn around and go do it again. If you can do it again after you are hurting, is it really as bad as you thought? #owned
10- #getitdone fall back plans (if you aren’t achieving your goals make decisions and reassess realistically) Persisting with an unrealistic plan may burn energy faster. A Sub 4 hours marathon may turn into a just #getitdone marathon.
11- Hit the reset button. Switch off from overthinking. Stop- have a drink, shake out shoulder tension, eat a gel, take a few deep breaths, centre yourself and be on your merry way again.
12- @runwithkat– Think objectively about the goal not subjectively about how u feel at one moment (ie tired, hurting, too hard). U can do it – you just have to actually do it.
13- @runwithkat– Live in the moment. Think of a long run as a pamper session. How often do you get hours to think about just u and how u feel. E.g. If you feel a bead of sweat trickling down your skin – concentrate on that.
14- @runwithkat– Be self aware. Think of your form. If something hurts, try and fix it.
nokkon- Thank you Run Coach Kat for your great contribution,
If you have any more feedback on building an endurance athlete mind game, we would love for you to leave your thoughts/experiences as comments.
2 thoughts on “14 ways to build an unstoppable endurance mind game”
I’ve inadvertently used all of these points in everything up to coast to kosci this year and I agree with them all.
I’d add the importance of having a support crew that knows you intimately before you start the run. They certainly will do by the time you’ve finished whinging and whining at them. If they know you, they’ll know when to push you or ease off and leave you alone for a while.
When you’re in the race and it gets tough and uncomfortable, remember why you are there and the sacrifices people have made to get you there along with your work. That certainly helped me focus my effort.
Hi Adam, Congratulations on completion of your race. What a giant accomplishment and if anyone knows this topic well it would be you. Thank you for sharing your tips. We hope you have your feet up now and are enjoying a rest.