When we register for an event, our thoughts immediately turn to how we’re going to train. And by ‘train’, we mean getting our body physically ready for the pressures we’re going to put it under. Little attention is given to what you need to do mentally to succeed. This is your how-to to deal with pre-event anxiety.
Professional sports people have worked for years and years on dealing with the mental pressures of competing and slowly but surely, us amateurs are taking notice. You don’t want your mind to be the limiting factor come event day. The mental health charity Mind have provided some helpful hints and tips of how to get to the Tough Mudder start line in your best ever mental shape. These should give you that extra 10% to rely on when your legs want to give in.
7 Mental Preparation Techniques To Deal With Pre-Event Anxiety
Give yourself as little to worry about as possible
Have all of your kit packed and ready to go the night before. If your alarm fails to go off, you know you can run down the stairs, grab your bag and go. If all’s going well,
you’ve got time to relax, breathe deep and visualize. The key is to think about what might happen – prepare yourself for as many eventualities as possible. This will
minimise the chances of any unwanted surprises.
Have a plan and focus on what you can control
The weather is beyond your control, so don’t worry about that. What you can do is make a plan and stick to it. Don’t fly out of the blocks and get swept away with the
occasion – your training has prepared you well and you should have an idea of your ‘running pace’.
Make yourself familiar with the course in the week before the event
Where can you expect any supporters to be stood, if applicable? If you are familiar with the course (including the obstacles that you’ll face), you will have things to look
forward to enroute. If you know what the course looks like, you will be familiar with your surroundings. With the Tough Mudder tips, blogs and YouTube
videos available, you can get a real idea of what’s going to be in front of you on the day.
Visualise your course – pre-event preparation isn’t just physical
Sit down in the run up to the event and imagine the good, the bad and the ugly of the event. Imagine how it might feel at certain points on the course and arm yourself with
methods to banish the demons. If you know what might happen, you are half way to ensuring you’re strong enough to carry on whatever is thrown at you.
Discomfort and self-doubt are part and parcel of running; being able to overcome them through mental rehearsal and preparation will push you through the barriers
towards a strong finish and the joy of the finish line.
Don’t do anything new on the day
If you train like you plan to run, there should be no surprises before or during the event and you’ll be familiar with all aspects of the day. Eat what you always eat, drink
what you always drink and wear what you always wear. By all means, sip from a bottle of water or energy drink, but don’t chug the lot – the likelihood is that it’ll cause you to need a pit stop during the course.
Your dry mouth isn’t due to dehydration or thirst; it’s due to anxiety and the adrenaline your body is preparing for when the starting gun goes ‘bang’. When you’re in familiar surroundings with very few ‘new’ things going on, you will be much more comfortable.
Take some time out
Your emotions can quite easily take charge of your mind, so you need to take some time out and breathe deep. Collect your thoughts and emotions somewhere quiet. Have one final visualisation session and just relax – you are about to come to the end of a very long journey. Remind yourself that you’ve worked hard to be here and your body and mind are ready.
Have some emotional triggers ready and remind yourself why you’re running. The run you’re about to do will probably push you to the limit and you might want to stop, slow down or give in. When your mind starts to challenge your desire to continue, have something powerful at the back of your mind to remind you why you’re running and why you shouldn’t give in.
Remind yourself that the course is your procession
It’s your reward for all that training; for heading out of the door come rain or shine, light or dark. The hard work is undertaken during training, the event/ course is the celebration. When you cross that finish line, you’ve achieved something incredible and you’ve earned every single bit of it. All you need to do is cover the distance between the start and the finish line – go out there, run hard and enjoy it. You’ve done something incredible.