"I'm going to get injured", "I'm not going to be able to hit my target time", plus "training isn't going well", and "I'm going to get ill before race day.” Do those phrases all sound familiar to you? If so, then this negative thinking may be preventing you from maximising your chance of success. Research has shown that adopting a positive mindset clearly increases your chance of success and even your recovery from injury. So with that in mind, here are some ideas to help pump some positivity into your everyday training.
Cognitive re-framing is a psychological technique that involves identifying and then changing the way that you look at a situation so that you adopt a positive mindset. As runners we all experience negative or irrational thoughts from time to time, especially as race day approaches and the paranoia really does start to kick in. However with a little rational thought, it is possible to identify the positive aspects of virtually any situation. By turning a negative into a positive you are ditching that negative, irrational and self-critical self-talk that can really hinder your performance.
Use positive self-talk or affirmations
This involves replacing any negative statements with positive ones. For example you could try a simple one like, “I can’t do this” and change it into ‘I can do this.’ You can also develop a positive mantra that you repeat to yourself throughout a race or training run. Try writing a positive statement on the inside of your wrist so that you can look at it during a race or training run and focus on it mentally or even say it out loud if that helps.
Log the positives
At times it becomes easy to lose sight of anything positive, particularly during periods of injury or when you are struggling with your training or racing. At the end of each day, make sure you commit to writing down three positive things that you have done during that day. It doesn’t matter how insignificant you may feel they are, write them down. You will be amazed at how suddenly things don't seem quite as bad as you might initially have thought.
Setting both long and short-term goals and having a target to aim for and look forward to, is a great way of maintaining a positive attitude. Without having challenging yet realistic goals to strive for, you are always in danger of becoming de-motivated and stuck in a negative rut with your training.
Don't look back in anger
Looking back at your training diary to see how far you've come is a hugely valuable exercise. It's often easy to lose perspective, particularly when you don't feel that your training is going particularly well. Remember that progress is not always measured by performance! Your personal best times may have reached a plateau, but remember that you may have made huge steps forward in other areas of your training. That might be with your core stability or your nutrition for example. So remember to always look for and focus on the positives because you really will be able to find them.
Recall previous success
One of the worst things you can do as a runner is to stand on the start line of any race with a negative mindset. It nearly always results in a disappointing outcome. In the days leading up to a race, take some time out to remember previous races which have gone well and explore the reasons why they were a success. There is absolutely no reason why it can't happen again.