High-level endurance athletes know that mental training is just as important as physical training. Mental toughness is a cornerstone to any successful long-distance swim. But it’s equally as important to implement during daily training. If you’ve been feeling mentally weak lately, check out these 6 tips to train your brain for race day.
1. Visualize Your Goal
Focusing on your personal goals enhances mental toughness, especially in times when your physical strength is being tried. Get your mind ready by visualizing leaving the competition in your wake, setting a new personal record, or even simply crossing the finish line. Studies show that just thinking about an action stimulates the same part of the brain that incites that same physical action. Meaning that your visualizations will help when it comes to performance in the water.
2. Have Patience
Perseverance is paramount, especially if you’re training for an endurance event. Realize from the very beginning that it will take a great deal of time and energy to reach your goals. Having patience will allow your body and mind to adapt to the challenge without encroaching negative thoughts.
3. Learn to Relax
While you might not be able to let your body fully relax mid-race, you can prepare your mind to remain tranquil during any hectic event. By clearing negative thoughts and focusing on the finish line, your mental fortitude will remain unmarred.
4. Use Focus Techniques
Whether you achieve focus through breathing techniques or by listening to music, using your mind to prepare your body augments performance. Find a focus technique that works for you and incorporate it into your training and race routine.
5. Find a Routine
To be the best you can be on race day, both physically and mentally, you’ll want to nail down an efficient routine and stick to it. Sticking to a standard pre-training and pre-race routine before each and every event will put your mind at ease, allowing you to be fully prepared for the challenge ahead.
6. Make a Game Plan
Before you set foot in the water, make a game plan about how you’ll handle various race hazards (e.g., slipped goggles, flat tire, blisters). This way, your mind will be fully prepared for any potential emergencies.
When you’re having a tough time, remember this quote by William James: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.” After all, we’re only as strong as we allow ourselves to be.