Tips For Good Mental Health
Runners can place a lot of stress on themselves and I have seen it several times over the years.
I have been one of those athletes so I have every right to discuss why letting go of worry is so crucial to your overall success as a distance runner.
These tips for good mental health are essential to helping you perform your best in 2015 and beyond.
I was a member of the United States Army World Class Program for nearly three years.
I failed miserably several times in 2007 trying to earn the 2008 USA Olympic Trials “B” marathon standard time of 2:22:00.
2:22:00 for the marathon distance is 5:25 per mile pace for the 26.2 mile distance.
There was a great deal of stress placed under me because at that time I was being brought into the unit on ‘conditional' status.
I had one year to meet the 2:22:00 marathon standard or I would be released and sent back to a regular Army unit.
I had run 51:52 for 10-miles, 1:11 for the half-marathon and my marathon personal best at that time was ‘only' 2:43:36.
These were respectable times but hardly met the standards for the unit I was being conditionally allowed into.
I showed some promise with my 10-mile time and at that time, had qualified for two world armed forces cross country championship teams.
One of the best tips for good mental health that I can provide to you as a distance runner is to
1. Never place limits on yourself
You can never place limits on what you are capable of.
I firmly believe the only limits we have as athletes are those in which we place on ourselves.
Mastery over our self-imposed limitations is key to running success.
2. Be patient
This is one that gets a lot of athletes hung up on. We all want results. This is not uncommon.
Everyone wants to meet their goals. The problem lies in the fact that we sometimes can be too demanding on ourselves and lose the joy for the sport.
The best runners I have ever trained with understand that this is a process.
Results do not come overnight but they do come to the persistent and patient athlete.
I have seen 2:11 marathoners go out and bomb in their races and run 2:40s'-50's and be talking about breaking 2:10 a couple hours later.
Please note that I think a marathon time in the 2:40-50 range is very, very competitive but the point is to let you know even the best runners fall short of their goals.
What makes them different is they persist despite the setbacks.
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Find what the successful athletes are doing and emulate them.
Be yourself but also find out what is working for them and make it work for you.
3. Have a long-term approach
This ties into patience but when I was still a 2:43 marathoner I knew if I looked at breaking 2:22 in a long-term way I would meet my objective.
I knew it wasn't going to happen in a matter of weeks but knew it could be done in about a year or two.
If it took longer that was something I was willing to take on.
A lot of runners are not willing to do that.
There are many runners who want their results too fast, are too demanding and thus, causes self-sabotage to take place.
If you keep a long-term approach to your training, focus on healthy living and results will come to you.
I can promise you that.
I had to fail several times before I broke the 2:20 marathon barrier.
It took me 10 months but went from a 2:43:36 marathoner to a 2:19:35 athlete because I had a long term approach to what I was doing.
It doesn't matter if you are a 6 hour marathoner seeking to run 5 hours or a 35-minute 10K athlete seeking to run 25 minutes.
If you're patient and persistent in your plan of action you will achieve the results you are seeking.
4. Do what others wont
One of the best tips for good mental health in this sport is to remain positive through your training and do the little things that most people will not.
You must do today what others won't do in order to have the things tomorrow others won't have – Les Brown
What are you willing to do for success?
How long are you willing to endure?
How persistence are you willing to be?
These are the tough questions that only you can answer.
You have to remember every athlete from total beginners to world-class athletes have had to ask these very same questions to find their way.
The best runners in the world experience doubt and question their ability just as much as you and I do.
It wasn't until I stopped worrying what others thought about me and continuing to be overly concerned with performances that I ran my current marathon best of 2:19:35.
I ran that time after failing to meet the standards the Army wanted me to meet and ironically, achieved the 2008 United States Olympic “A” standard of 2:20:00 or better bypassing the “B” standard of 2:22:00 altogether, while working a full-time job.
I hope this is getting through to you of how important it is to keep a level head, stay relaxed, think long-term and with no limitations.
I hope these four tips for good mental health will assist you in your training and racing this year and in the future.
Our thoughts create our reality, they are magnetic and they are energy.
Be mindful of what you say to yourself.
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