You have trained hard, you’re fit, your kit is sorted and everything that can be done is done…its time to tackle the UTA100! However all the months of preparation, dedication and planning can come unstuck in a heartbeat on race day if you haven’t prepared your mind for what is to come.
Often in extreme endurance events the difference between success and failure comes down to not the physical ability of the runner but more so their mental “prowess”. Essentially how your mind copes with and manages the fatigue and pain caused by the endurance event.
When the going gets tough on race day and the task at hand feels unfathomable below are a few mental tips and tricks and help you push through the pain and achieve your goals.
- Break It Down: Don’t think about the race as one whole event, doing so can make it seem unachievable. Instead think only about getting to the next checkpoint. Once there then only focus on getting to the next, and so on.
- The Butterfly Effect: Use distraction techniques such as counting your cadence, singing a repetitive song (99 bottles of beer on the wall etc), or listening to music to take your conscious focus off the physical pain.
- Stimulate Neural Pathways: Later in the race when your form deteriorates to regain it try focusing on one area of your form at a time. Do this for a minute or two then move to the next examples are: foot placement, cadence, knee drive, posture, head position, arm swing.
- Tough Love: Use run/hike intervals on long climbs such as 1min run/1min hike and be strict on yourself to ensure you don’t hike unnecessarily. As you fatigue you will mentally want to hike climbs than you are physically capable of running as your mind is always looking to protect itself from suffering.
- Fake it till you make it: No matter how bad it gets always display a positive/happy attitude when passing other competitors or when meeting crew/family in the checkpoints. Negative thoughts will only breed negativity and cause more focus on the pain. Actively trying to change your attitude when you see people will help turn things around when times are tough.
- Get real: Be honest with yourself before the race about why you are there, what are you trying to achieve and what defines success for you. Having these clear goals (and even writing them on your arm) will help give stock to your mental determination when the suffering begins…and it will!
Last of all HAVE FUN! Enjoy the experience and revel in what you body has been able to achieve.
Good luck and Happy Running