We have all been there – those mornings when we want to hit the snooze button instead of hopping on the bike, the moments when we think maybe it would be OK to turn our long runs into a shorter workout. But the folks at Speedo really summed it up best with their campaign slogan, “The Body Achieves What the Mind Believes!” As racers, if you can develop the right mindset, there is little that can stand between you and success.
What does mental toughness look like? While this can vary from person to person, some key characteristic of mentally tough athletes include the following:
- Self-Belief: Do you have an unwavering belief that you can achieve your goals? What distinctive qualities do you have that perhaps your opponents may be lacking?
- Motivation: What is your “WHY?” Why do you compete? What is it that drives you to continue training and competing? Is your WHY motivation enough to bounce back from setbacks that occur?
- Focus: Are you able to focus on your goal despite what is going on around you? When training or racing are you able to minimize your own internal distractions or distractions caused by others?
- Composure: How do you handle the unexpected? Do you thrive under pressure rather than let the inevitable race anxiety control you?
If you are able to answer yes to all of the above you are well on your way, if not crossing the finish line, to being mentally tough. If you still have some work to do on developing your mental toughness consider the following. Start with a positive attitude and the confidence to achieve your goals, program your mind to expect success, develop a pre- race routine and stick to it, learn to let mistakes go quickly and have alternative plans in place, remove the negative self-talk from your life, use failures as a stepping stone for future success, and remember your “WHY.” As the great Vince Lombardi said, “The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” Keep working on not only your physical training, but also your mental toughness – you, and only you are in control of your results!