Words of a Comrades Winner

Mental Preparation for Racing – Mind vs Legs

As we are now less than 60 days to Comrades 2011, and 22 days to Two Oceans, I will now begin my tapering programme in order to be at peak fitness and strength for the 24 April.
As in any sport these days mental fitness and strength is a key to your performance on race day. So as I enter the tapering programme where there is no heavy long runs or speed work training on the road, I find this the ideal time to get my mental strength in line. There are numerous ways to do this, I could go see a sports psychologist, (head doctor), but I choose to do this on my own.
How do I do this? I have sat with my coach and we have decided pretty much on the game plan and how I will run the race (talking Two Oceans here), things like what times I need to run to certain points, and when to increase the pace or just stay as is. What I like to do is watch DVD footage of my previous races, especially parts of a race where I felt a little off or weak, and I try and remember what I was thinking at the time that got me through the rough patches. I take this and use it as my motivator, and tell myself things like “I will not have to work hard mentally as I won’t put myself in that position again as I am better prepared.” I also look at what I did the previous year. In my case I was 4th at Oceans, and I know I had a good race there, I was just beaten by 3 guys that were on top form that day. So I play the race over and over in my mind and there is always a part of a race that you would run differently, and I use this as to correct my mistake from the previous year.

The key for me is to visualise myself running the entire race and play out all the possible scenarios, such as surges from other competitors, the hills up and down, and the key parts of the race. I do this often so that come race day I am mentally strong as I have run the race 15 times in 3 weeks in my head.

During the race, when I am feeling tired or hurting, my mental strength comes into play, as when I was visualising the race I didn’t feel like hurting or being tired so it almost becomes a non entity for me, as I also know that my preparations have been so good that I will recover as long as I keep moving at my pace I will come out of it.

It is a battle between the mind and the legs. The mind saying run, and the legs say walk. So at the time you think well if I walk a bit I will be able to recover and run again and will make up the time that I walked. So you have a little breather and walk. It takes a strong mind to tell your legs to pick up the pace after a walk and keep it constant again. Yes I have had these battles between my mind and legs – Often – but in my case my legs loose out and just have to keep going!

Prepare physically and mentally for all your races, and on race day make sure your mind wins the battle over the legs. Then you wont say at the end of the race – I could have run faster. If my mind wins then I win!




March 29, 2011 - Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized | , , , ,

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