Your energy is flagging through the last mile of a 10K. You see a hill ahead. A bystander swings a cowbell a half mile from the finish line and yells, “You’re almost there! It’s mind over matter!” You have a sudden urge to use that last little bit of strength you have to stop mid-stride, hand your bib number to the well-meaning stranger and let him finish the race. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! You can develop the mental endurance to compliment your physical prowess so you’re strong – not cranky – when it counts.
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Pushing through plateaus or mastering new athletic skills is possible. But, brain training is as challenging, if not more challenging, than all the physical workouts you do. To build winning mental stamina you should choose a mantra, learn to meditate, employ visualization and focus on the power of positivity.
4 Ways to Build Mental Strength to Help You Go The Distance
A mantra, or repeated phrase, can help you sustain your pace, calm your breathing and keep you moving forward faster. Whether you mentally chant “Be bold! Be brave!” to the rhythm of your footfalls until you finish a race, or grunt out “Got this!” over and over to make it through a lift that’s been dogging you, a mantra can help you keep you on track.
Meditation helps athletes focus before a competition and tough workouts. The deep breathing associated with meditation pays dividends when it comes to building endurance and oxygenating your brain. Meditation can also create a strong mind/body connection that can boost recovery and make you aware of physical changes, like injuries, you might be ignoring.
Good athletes often use visualization to help them succeed. This differs from meditation, as visualization is active concentration. Athletes use visualization before events to “see” themselves executing the movements they need to do. Visualization exercises can help you anticipate how you might feel throughout a performance or workout. You can develop a mental game-plan that includes how you will redirect any negative emotions you feel when you approach “Heartbreak Hill” or a fellow tri-athlete swims over you in choppy water. If you can visualize yourself drowning negativity and executing winning form from beginning to end, your confidence and capability will soar.
Associating with positive people will make you powerful. While it’s true that it’s you who has to get yourself to the finish line, negative energy and nay-sayers can sap your mental energy before you get to the start line. Seek out others who “get it.” Elite athletes aren’t going it alone. They have coaches and teams of people to support them. Being receptive to positive energy will help you grab hold of the good vibes offered by the cheering bystander on the corner in a way that feeds your ability to go the distance.