|Find your Happy Place|
Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose
Star Wars YODA
Preparation’ is vital for running ultras. Physical health, nutrition, water, feet, support, weather, mental health and focus are all essential, but the fine line in racing, leading to dictate a DNF after your name or not, is what you do when your ‘preparation’ doesn’t go to plan. After all, even the best ultra race plans won’t go exactly to plan, that’s why we love them.Preparation for any ultra race is about putting together many facets that will ultimately come together on Race day. There is the physical training and that is important. The logistics of getting to the race , getting the equipment/gear together and the necessary gear ,food and nutrition. What we most often spend the least time on is the mental preparation .
What is great about such races is the challenge .There is no doubt about that . What makes it interesting is to be able to test the plan and hopefully pull it off on race day. The article by Matt Cooper called the The mental side of Running is a good start. It is important not as he says when everything is going well but when it is not . When it all doesn't go to plan . The negative thoughts pile in and its easier to give up then go on.As Chris McCormack says in Ironman racing we have to Embrace the Suck because at some stage everything will hurt and thats when you have to find your happy place. (see my blog piece My Happy Place )
Chrissie Wellington provided some advice in a piece called 10 tips from the Worlds Top Female triathlete She said :
It amazes me how little time people spend on mental training. 30K into a marathon on race day is too late to figure out that you need to train your brain. There are many different tools you can use. Have a bank of positive images and songs. It doesn’t have to be related to sport at all. That way, when the going gets tough—and it will get tough—you can draw on those images and have peace of mind.”
She suggested having a mantra or two. Finding a happy place and not allowing the mind to wander or to be filled with negativity .That is the slippery slide to the DNF . Our mind is our most powerful tool and can be used to overcome all difficulties and equally is the most vulnerable link in bringing the whole game down. Chrissie Wellington used Rudyard Kipling’s If.
It encapsulates everything you need to do to be a good athlete, especially the mental side of the game. ‘If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;/If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,/But make allowance for their doubting too…’There are many more great words/thoughts or visions to race by and to use as a mantra/a focus when times get hard . Just think of that Happy Place.