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Build your race day mental skills during training

yoga zen

A great way to ensure you have the right attitude on race day is to build it up in training. How you feel from one training session to the next can vary depending on your training load, so inevitably you will have days where your energy is low. On those days it is even more important to draw on your mental strength to make the most of the day. Rehearsing what should be going through your head on race morning during a workout reinforces a positive mindset. This allows you to make the most of all of your training and be more consistent in your racing. Here are some tips on how to practice your mental skills and make the most of each training session.

Have confidence your body knows what to do

Think about a really good workout you completed recently. Focus on what that felt like, what your mental cues were and what you did to make it happen. Every training session builds on the last one so just work hard and remember not to judge the result until the session is finished. On race day, be confident your training has prepared you well. If you have trust in the work you’ve put in, you can relax, do your best and enjoy the day.

Change the channel if you don’t like what you are seeing in your mind

When negative thoughts creep in your head, change your brain’s channel to something positive. Think about how excited you are to train and how great you feel while challenging yourself. Your brain can only process one thought at a time. Break down technique and execution. Focus on what you’re doing in the moment. This helps towards the best possible performance.

Don’t think about the competition – unless it helps

It’s best to focus on your own race, strategy and strengths. Comparing to the competition, if you find yourself feeling inferior, will give them an advantage before the race even happens. Don’t be intimidated by others and instead, use your competition to help you try your hardest that day. Having positive competition on a regular basis means you will be more confident in a competitive environment and less likely to doubt yourself when in a race situations. Don’t allow your mind to put limitations on what your body can do and be confident you can be competitive. In this way, you can use the athletes around you to get the best out of yourself.

Relax and take deep breaths.

Deep breathing can help you center your thoughts when you feel you are in a stressful environment. Be mindful of each moment of your preparation for training or the race: preparation for the session, what warm up you need and how to be ready to execute your best performance that day. Breathe in to clear your mind and breathe out to place the thoughts you want into your head. When you are about to start a training session it is not the time to think about what you did yesterday or what you are doing later today. Breathe and think only about what you want to accomplish today. These skills are taught in yoga classes and transfer very well as relaxation exercises before training or races.

Have fun

Enjoy your training — it will help you to perform better on race day. Racing can be painful at times but it is a good and temporary pain that is wrapped in the enjoyment of challenge. If you enjoy training regularly, you are less likely to dread the effort of racing and will be able to push your pain threshold much higher. Smile and train and race with enjoyment and stay in the moment, for every moment, for every session. You will be surprised at how much you improve your day to day consistency if you look to enjoy each day as happy training is quality training.