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Mentally Preparing for Race Day

Top tips from fitness guru and RunTogether Ambassador Jessie Pavelka.

It’s easy to understand and appreciate the physical side of running. After walking, it’s one of the most natural movements we can achieve. When we do it for ourselves, be it a daily run or just having some fun chasing the kids, we don’t need to think or prepare too much for it. If we throw a race into the mix, the variables that accompany it can be overwhelming.

Distance, time, people and terrain are all factors capable of intimidating us if we let them. They jolt us into action and our minds race. What? Why? How? Don’t panic, this is what the mind and body are made for.

Initially, the excitement and anticipation may make you feel the urge to reach out to friends and connect. Do it! Talk about the race, create a buzz and excitement around it. This is when groups involved in the RunTogether programme come into their own, your running buddies will be your support team and accountability partners, they might even want to race with you.

Create a plan of action- what are the milestones you aim for to ensure success in your challenge? Consider your diet and lifestyle. Make every step a positive one. Finally, think about how you’re going to feel when you cross the finish line and then execute your plan of action.

If you hit a wall during your training, don’t worry, it’s normal. Whilst training for the race, start to pay attention to yourself and your body. What feels right and good, and what is hindering your ability to focus and connect to your training? Make a mental note of these and try addressing any problem areas.

I’m a fan of meditation, deep breathing and visualisation. These are fantastic tools for steadying blood pressure, maintaining a calm space and minimising external stresses.

When you’re at a training session, focus on the moment and switch off from everything that isn’t beneficial to you. Envisage yourself running the race, picture yourself finishing strong, standing tall and confident. Really feel the day of the race before it even happens.

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Another great tool is using the power of pen and paper. Start writing down affirmations and gratitudes which inspire positivity within you. Find your favourite motivational quotes and create a mantra for yourself. The more you feel good during the training, the more likely you are to repeat the experience. Remember why you set this challenge and remind yourself what you want to achieve.

The most important thing you can do for yourself when taking on the challenge of a race is to find the joy in it. If it’s connecting with others, make sure you connect. Pursue all the things that drive you and hold them close. If it’s the challenge itself, make sure you cross the finish line knowing you gave it your all.

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It’s going to look different for everyone, but we all have the ability to feel good when we cross that finish line, so good that we inspire others and want to do it all over again.

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