The late Yogi Berra once said, "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical." Like most Yogisms, if you will, his wit and humor was blended with a bit of examinable truth. Berra fell into the category of both athlete and coach who understood the power of the mind both in the realms of training and competing.
Physical training for any sport, particularly an endurance sport, is immensely important. To realize potential in long distance running, day-to-day time on your feet plays an enormous role—arguably the most important role. Training the mind, however, is an area too few address. To focus wholeheartedly on the physical ignores this fact: Our mind can enable—or impede—amazing performances on race day.
With that in mind, let's take a look at four effective and tangible methods to make your racing mind more effective. The mind—like the body—is malleable and can be made more resilient.
Set Goals, Both Kinds
Goal setting is a lost art. Fewer and fewer athletes take the time to set concrete goals for their upcoming training and racing. Virtually every study associated with athletic performance shows that setting goals holds an athlete accountable to themselves and—if made public—by their training partners. In addition to the obvious outcome performance-based goals, be certain to have daily process goals which, unlike outcome goals, are completely within your control. Drink eight glasses of water each day. Get a massage once every 10-or-so days. Execute two training runs each week on softer, non-paved surfaces. Process goals should also be put on paper, thus, enabling a level of confidence on race day that comes only from knowing you've done all things properly.