In my work, I am fortunate to talk to a lot of world-class runners about how they train and prepare to compete at the highest level. One thing I've noticed is that the mind-body connection is especially strong in most elite runners. We're used to thinking of superior running genes as being the factor that distinguishes the world's best runners from the rest of us. But I'm convinced that this highly developed mind-body connection is just as important. It allows them to learn more and learn faster from their bodies and then apply what they learn to their training and preparation in ways that maximize their improvement.
I recently completed a book that summarizes what I've learned about mind-body running from the world's best runners. Following are six of their mind-body running methods that can benefit runners at any level, including you.
Train for Confidence
Your body knows what it is capable of. Through training your body learns and continually relearns its performance limits as your fitness improves. It communicates this knowledge to the mind in the form of feelings of confidence (and lack thereof) in relation to the goals you've set. When you feel you are ready to set a PR, you are.
Trust your sense of confidence. Train in ways that maximize your confidence and minimize your doubts, even when doing so causes you to take the road less traveled and do things differently from other runners.
The more effective your training is, the more you will enjoy it. Conversely, loss of enjoyment in training is one of the earliest and most reliable signs of overtraining. Having fun with your running is not a frivolous extra. It is vital to your mission to run to the best of your ability. Pay close attention to your level of enjoyment in training and don't be afraid to make adjustments when you find it waning.
Discover Your Magic Formula
Each body is unique, and therefore each runner responds to training somewhat differently than any other runner. To realize your full potential as a runner you must discover your own personal magic training formula. This doesn't happen all at once, but rather step by step as you pay attention to how your body responds to training.
How much mileage can your body handle? How much high-intensity running? What sort of weekly workout routine works best for you? These are the kinds of questions that experience will answer when you listen carefully to your body. As each question is answered, apply it to your future training to make it more effective than ever.