5 Tools To Maintain Mental Focus During Races

I had a great time presenting at Race Faster about Five Tools for Maintaining Mental Focus during a Race. We had a great turnout and I made some new friends. These events are extremely gratifying as I have the opportunity to present ideas with athletes interested in learning the psychological skills needed to increase performance. This was a great crowd of elite runners, young athletes, triathletes and competitive mountain bikers. One common thread among them ……They wanted to gain a psychological edge! We covered a lot of information and I answered questions pertaining to plateaus in performance, recovery from injury, and hitting “the wall” in a marathon.

Below are the 5 main points from the presentation that I wanted to share with you. I hope you find them useful. Stay tuned for some of the Q and A from this presentation in future posts.

Your training is complete and race day is here.  Use the following tips to help you perform to your potential:

  1. Phases of the Race: When we break the race into smaller increments, it becomes more manageable.   It’s not 26 miles…. (Its 5 miles, 5x’s). Break a 3 k, into 4 lap increments.   What do you need to be paying attention to during each phase of the race?
  2. Maintain Optimal Energy– during all phases of the race we want to be at a moderate level of “activation”, not too pumped up and not too relaxed that we are sleepy.  More often, we are too keyed up or anxious. We can control our pre-race jitters by taking deep breaths (diagraphramatic breathing).
  3. Present Focus– “You don’t want to be looking in the rear view mirror, or looking far up the road into the future”.  Past and future focus take us out of the present.  Focus on your race and the most important factors in it.
  4. Positive Self- Talk– “Speak to yourself as if you were encouraging your best friend”.  (i.e., You’re Good).  Avoid “What if” statements-àthat leads to negative emotions.
  5. Post-race review– After the race is complete, find two things that you did well and one thing that you can make improvements on.