Preparing for a race requires dedication that goes beyond physical training. Besides sticking to the training plan, it is necessary to respect the resting time and also take care of the diet. But when the challenge involves long-distance racing, there is a fourth factor that is just as important as the others: the psychological. If this is not trained, the mind can become your worst enemy during the race, and can even make you fail on the big day.
Here are some suggestions that can help you develop a good emotional preparation so that fear and anxiety do not overwhelm you on the day of the race.
Attention to body signals
The more a runner knows about his own body, the better prepared he will be on race day. Running while listening to music or chatting with friends is great for taking the focus off the distance, but set aside a few days of your training to run free of distractions. It is important to pay attention to the signals that your body gives in relation to the muscles, cardiovascular system, and breathing. This self-observation work will help the athlete to realize if he is pushing too hard or if he can speed up more.
Understand who your opponent is
You have to be aware that every athlete enters a race to race against himself. Take the focus off the runners beside you and concentrate on finishing the course and surpassing your own marks. In long-distance races, trying to keep up with an opponent can either serve as a stimulus or be disastrous, putting you at risk of breaking down during the race.
Stay away from negative thoughts
If the athlete cannot maintain self-confidence, he runs the serious risk of giving up. One must always believe in oneself. If it doesn’t work today, tomorrow is a new day.
Put your psychology to the test
Try experiencing adverse situations during the training period for long-distance races, always remembering to gradually increase the difficulties. As you overcome them, the athlete will gain more confidence. Still, if an unforeseen event should arise during the race, it should not take away your focus.
Study the run
Talk to other athletes who have already completed the challenge you have set yourself. The more information you have, the more confidence you will gain.
Create intermediate goals
Whatever the distance of the race, the ideal is not to think of it as a whole, but rather in parts. Dividing a half-marathon into three stages, for example, will help keep you motivated. It’s better to think that you have completed a third of the race than just 7 km.