Over the last 15 years I've been lucky enough to have traveled the globe and competed in many of the world's toughest events. Of course my anatomy and physiology degree helped me physically train for these events. But, the invaluable lessons learned during many of these extreme events truly helped to mentally prepare me.
A couple of my favorite mental events are the Badwater 135 across Death Valley in July and the infamous Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, Vermont. I've completed both of them in back-to-back years and get asked all the time, "Are they more physical or more mental?"
It's 50 percent mental and 50 percent physical. You need to be in tip-top shape in order to complete the course. On the flip side, you better have your mental A-game ready to overcome any challenge thrown your way.
So how do you mentally prepare for a race like the Badwater 135? When I signed up for this beast I was living in Washington, D.C. so I couldn't actually train for the intense heat or extreme conditions of Death Valley. Granted I did log numerous miles during the hottest time of the day, but it still just wasn't the same.
I decided to use a technique that I read about when I was kid called visualization. You visualize yourself at your upcoming event and try to prepare for each scenario that might be thrown in your direction. This was a technique we practiced quite a bit when I was in the military too and seemed to work pretty well.
As you can imagine there are more than a few potentially bad scenarios to visualize in Death Valley. For instance, dehydration, extreme sunburn, heat exhaustion, delirium and even death, which can be a little difficult to prepare for.