Monday, 31 July 2017

How to mentally prepare for that big race by Tom Dawson-Squibb

Written by 

Mental Performance Coach, Tom Dawson-Squibb, shares his views on the importance of mental strength as well as some tips on how to mentally prepare for a big race.

Most people would agree that being able to get the best out of yourself requires your mind to help you out during training and on the day of the big race.

Unmanaged or imbalanced emotions run the risk of impairing your ability to go and execute what you have trained for. This makes a race that might have seemed manageable become a nightmare as the mind tends to play tricks on you.

Tips for preparing mentally for a race so that you can have a clear mind.

1) Do scenario planning Identify things that may happen during the race that may throw you off course and plan for them. Visualise the situation happening, what feelings it might bring up and then decide on an optimal course of action from there. It is easier to make decisions outside of the heat of the moment.

2) Breaking activity in chunks People often work more effectively when they break up larger goals into little chunks. Some runners have been known to count their steps for example to ensure that they stay in the present.  The smaller your targets are along the way, the easier it is for you to remain present and uncluttered.

3) AAA – Acknowledge, Accept, Advance Dealing with either pain, doubt or overconfidence is important in getting you through to the end. Athletes should try to remain positive but not lie to themselves about what they are experiencing.  Acknowledge means, identifying what you are feeling and being mindful of that emotion. Accept means trying not to fight what you are experiencing but rather, to accept what you are feeling and using your energy to get to the finish line as opposed to fighting your feelings. To Advance means making an immediate action goal that helps you gain momentum. An example may be that you are experiencing doubt that you will finish and it’s sapping your energy. Acknowledge those feelings and accept that you are probably in the majority of people that experience similar feelings. Then advance by focusing only on the most enjoyable parts of the run for the next kilometre – this may be enough to shift your momentum and bring about a more uncluttered mind.

It’s key to keep it simple and to remember weakness is not about experiencing any weakness at all, but rather not having the courage to acknowledge and accept it.

Powerade’s ‘Power to Beat Your Best’ aims to provide athletes with the tools to achieve a personal best time and will be working with a number of South Africa’s foremost running, cycling and training experts to challenge athletes to beat their best in 2017.

For more information on ‘Power to Beat Your Best’ visit - the official hydration partner of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon and the Cape Town Cycle Tour.

Published in Sports Range