Developing Mental Toughness - My Journey
By Erica King Founder Running Divas
How do I keep crossing marathon finish lines?
After the training is done, I have had enough sleep and good nutrition the only factor that ensures that I finish every race that I start is my mental toughness.
This is not something that you either have or don't have - it is part of my training and something that over time has become as important as building the kms and long run every week.
It is learned and practiced just like every other part of my training program.
I have zero natural athletic ability which just means that I have to work hard at developing and maintaining my level of fitness for running marathons. Nothing about training comes easily for me which makes the achievement of each goal even greater.
For me, developing this mental toughness is a consistent, essential part of my program. I plan for and act on opportunities to develop this every week.
I develop mental toughness by:
- Belief in myself to continue achieving the goals that I set, no matter what obstacles appear along the journey - this is a process like any other
- Not listening to negatives or negative people around me
- Surrounding myself with positive people in all areas of my life
- I actively choose to be happy every single day even when it's super tough and challenging - it is a choice
- Running when I'm tired and have had minimal sleep
- Running in almost any weather conditions - my only exception is hail, that's not pleasant
- Running when I am stressed
- Running when I am happy or sad
- Running or training when I don't feel like it
- Never placing unrealistic expectations on myself to achieve a specific time
- Giving every training session my 100% best effort no matter what
- Never setting myself up to fail by stating that I will run a set pace, finish time
- Never comparing myself to anyone else, this is my journey
- Learning new run techniques, strategies and programming to improve my personal run performance
- Challenging myself with new run goals that push me out of my comfort zone
- Taking a mental and physical break 1 or 2 days every week so that I'm never over training and feeling exhausted. It's super hard to be mentally tough when I'm exhausted
- Eating whole fresh foods for the best nutritional benefits and having the occasional treat such as my favourite coconut ice cream but never overdoing it. My focus with nutrition is to keep my blood sugar stable, mood positive and energy up
- Avoiding alcohol because it just doesn't make me feel good and I find getting up for training early the next morning after drinking the night before slows my body and mind
- Running without music so that I learn to be comfortable with my own thoughts
- Boosting the internal dialogue with myself by repeating â€œI can do thisâ€; â€œkeep goingâ€; â€œI will finishâ€; â€œslow & steady finishes the raceâ€
- When a race gets hard, my body is screaming at me to stop I just visualise crossing the finish line, putting that medal around my neck and feeling so happy that I achieved my goal of another race - this vision has kept me going more than any other in so many marathons
This is what has worked for me, you will find your own balance with time and training.
I challenge you to find and practice the best formula to develop your own mental toughness