Congratulations, you have been training and now the day has arrived. You may have been waking up early to get your training in, planning your day around it, and have probably asked yourself on several occasions, are you really doing this? Well, here you are. The day is approaching and you have put a lot of hard work into your preparation for this day that you will be able to cross that finish line and say “I did it!” At this point you need to trust your body and all of the training that you have done, but you also need to trust your mind and use it to your advantage. So, at this point, let your mind do its job.
There are a few mental strategies that are useful to use on race day. The first is imagery and visualization, which involves the process of creating ‘pictures’ in your mind and seeing yourself succeed. Additionally, you will want to use positive thinking and self talk. Our mind is extremely powerful and if you tell yourself something enough you will believe it. Also, our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are all connected. Therefore, if you have negative thoughts you are automatically going to start feeling poorly and not able to fulfill your goal. You may see that you slow down and all of a sudden feel pain that you did not feel before. So, the first thing you need to do is get rid of all of your negative thoughts. You can simply say “stop” if your mind starts going there. You need to approach the situation in a positive way, see yourself succeeding, and then motivate yourself utilizing positive self talk. In essence, your mind needs to be your own personal cheerleader. It is often helpful to also have a word or phrase that you can say to yourself that will remind you why you are doing this, what you are doing it for, and that you can do it. Perhaps something as simple as “I can” that you can repeat to yourself when you need that extra pick me up. Also, remember the facts and remind yourself that you ARE prepared and that you not only CAN do this, but you ARE doing it. Now get out there and have fun!
Dr. Rachel is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in obesity and weight management. She also has training in sport and health psychology. She currently works at Bellevue Center for Obesity & Weight Management. She ran in the 2007 NYC marathon, several half marathons, and a sprint distance triathlon to raise money for RunBuddies. She continues to live an active lifestyle and enjoys helping others live healthier lives. Feel free to post a question or comment and/or email her at AskDr.Rachel@gmail.comThis entry was posted on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 and is filed under Ask Dr. Rachel.