I talk to myself. A lot. Out loud. It helps me to think. To create. My mother used to tell me that only crazy people talk to themselves. I guess I’m crazy.
Believe it or not, successful people talk to themselves. Often, they have on-going conversations with themselves, verbalizing and solidifying in their own heads what they want to accomplish. While you may not want to talk to yourself out loud in public for fear of being thought of as crazy, self-talk can be a very powerful strategy to run a successful race and be successful in life.
Unlike the 100-meter dash, which is over in a few seconds, distance races give you a lot of time to think. They are also physically uncomfortable, which can lead to negative thoughts and doubts about being able to hold the pace or beat other runners. Any time a negative thought enters your head before or during a race, say, “Stop” and replace it with a positive thought. Say to yourself, “I’m strong,” or “I’m fast,” or “The other runners are even more fatigued than I am.” Early in your race, say things to yourself that keep you calm and relaxed. In the middle of the race, when you start to feel fatigued, say things that keep you encouraged to hold the pace. You may want to focus on a specific landmark on a road or cross country course or lap of the track, and say to yourself, “Just hold the pace until I get to the landmark,” or “Just the hold the pace until the next mile marker,” or “Just hold the pace for one more lap.” If there is a specific runner you want to beat, say to yourself, “Just stay with him (or her) for one more mile (or one more lap).” Toward the end of the race, say things that get you fired up to run as fast as you can. Say, “Go, go, go!” You may even want to have a specific mantra for your races, something that means a lot to you and triggers a feeling of empowerment.
And next time your mother tells you you’re crazy, she means it with love.
Get more racing strategies in 101 Winning Racing Strategies for Runners
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