How to Train Your Brain

Everyone has heard the saying “running is 90 percent mental and the rest is physical.” This may be an intimidating phrase for those who depend on physical training (which is also very important). However, just as you train your body leading up to a race, you can train your brain to help you perform at your best on race day.  Having a strong mind may give you the edge to finally get that personal best time or place.

I think that the best way to train your brain is visualization. If you can see yourself crossing the finish line in first place, or in a certain time, you will start to believe that it is possible, and it will be much easier to achieve your goal. You cannot let yourself settle in your mind and expect to surprise yourself on race day. If you can truly get yourself to believe that your goals are possible, you will be more motivated, and you will actually be stronger physically because your mind will no longer be holding you back. Visualization can be utilized daily, either before or during a run, and can be especially helpful leading up to race day. If you practice visualization consistently before race day, it will be much more helpful when you put it into use on a big day.

It is also important to train yourself to think positively during your runs. This can be very difficult, because it is easy and common to think negative thoughts while you are running, especially if you are having a bad day. Whether you have a quote or mantra to repeat while running, it is important (and difficult!) to keep your mind off any pains that you may be feeling. If you start to give in to the idea that you are not strong enough or fast enough, then your body will react and adjust accordingly. If you refuse to give up in your mind, you will be surprised at the things your body can achieve. Again, practicing ways to keep the negative thoughts out of your head on your daily runs will make it easier to think positively on race day. The best way to practice this is to be aware of your thoughts, whether positive or negative, and make a conscious effort to refocus if you begin to think negatively, and to note when you are thinking positively.

You will definitely notice a change when you start to train your brain when running. I have found that visualizing the route I am going to run on race day or any day helps to make the course seem less intimidating, and makes me feel more in control. I have spent a lot of time working on thinking positively while running, and it has made a big difference in my performance. Training your brain is just as important as training your body, and you will be surprised at the difference positive thinking can make!

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