We are very kindly being supported by Dr Ainslea, Paolo from P.I.Osteopathy, Chi Runner Kelly Knight and Blogger Kassia. Have a look at their motivating and helpful insights below.
DR AINSLEA SAYS –
If you’ve ever watched athletics on TV, I’m sure you’ve heard athletes and commentators talk about how much of running is done by your head. It’s true, but how can we use mental toughness and engage our heads as well as our legs to get that PB?
Top performance psychologist Dr Carol Dweck identified two sets of mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe their talents and abilities are at a fixed level; they believe that they have a certain amount of ability and will only run certain times within that fixed ability. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, think of talents and abilities as things they can develop. They know that they know that they will run better with effort, practice and no excuses. Which one sounds like you?
Research has repeatedly shown that a growth mindset is a healthier attitude toward practice and learning. With a growth mindset comes a hunger for feedback, better ability to deal setbacks, and here’s the important bit: significantly better performance over time. The good news is that growth mindset is something you can learn to strengthen with practice.
Increasing mental toughness
- adopt a growth mindset. Practice makes perfect. If a race or run does not go to plan, reflect on what you did learn. What can you do differently next time? What did work? What do you need to work on? These are all growth mindset actions
- Catch your fixed mindset in action. A fixed mindset will ignore the situation when things go wrong and will make excuses. Adopt a growth mindset by embracing your mistakes, identify your weaknesses and come up with a plan to sort them out.
- Praise and reward your effort (growth mindset) and not the race time (fixed).
Challenge and threat states
Your thoughts and beliefs really do have an impact on how your body reacts – we call this psychophysiology. Sport psychologists have studied ‘challenge’ and ‘threat’ states in athletes as they have been shown to predict performance.Challenge state is where an athlete sees a race as opportunity to prove themselves, and can see positive things as a result such as mastering a new distance or anticipating some personal growth.
On the other hand, threat occurs when an athlete sees the race as a stressor and perceives being in danger. An athlete is in the threat state when they worry about poor performance or failure.
Importantly, challenge and threat beliefs are accompanied by physical changes. If you feel like you are preparing for achallenge, your heart will beat faster and your blood flow (vascular resistance) will drop. This is the same physiological process that happens on a strenuous run and it is a sign that you are efficiently using energy. So challenge beliefs are important for saving vital energy during your run! If you feel like you are preparing for a threat, your response will be much less helpful. Your heart rate will still speed up, but the rest of your body won’t respond as effectively because your blood pressure and your stress level will increase massively (or vasoconstriction instead of vasodilation). This means that people who are preparing for an event that they view as a threat will find the race more physically demanding and stressful, while those who see it as a challenge will have the physical resources and energy to perform better.
Increasing mental toughness
- top up your challenge beliefs to get that extra edge. Choose what works for you. An example of a challenge belief might be: ‘I’m in control and have plenty of energy for this’. Practise on training runs so you can pull them out of the bag during races.
- Minimise threats. Spend some time thinking about them – what are the threats to your running performance (I.e. I’m just not good enough, I have been injured’)? Then, come up with a positive way of combatting the threat- (‘I’ve had plenty of good training runs since then, a good rest etc etc)
- Set an ‘if-then’ plan. For example, ‘If…(threat thought comes into my head e.g. I’m too tired, I can’t do it), then (I will think of my challenge thought e.g I’m strong, I have done this before. ‘If-then’ plans are called implementation intentions by psychologists and we are having some success with their use so they’re worth testing out as part of your mental toughness training.
KELLY KNIGHT Chi Running coach SAYS –
“For something to end up solid, it has to grow step-by-step and move through all of the sequential stages of growth. If you start skipping steps, you’re breaking this law and the consequences can range from fatigue to aches to injury.” Cramming in miles, starting on the speed work too soon, even big drastic diet changes may not be as beneficial as starting slowly, each day, each week at a time, listening to your body, sensing how it is feeling and adjusting your movement and routine. It takes patience, but achieving small steps and ticking off the goals whereby the results last all year and are introduced into your LIFESTYLE, is so much more rewarding than picking up constant niggles and tiring yourself out ! Make your love for running long term !
To contact Kelly for more information and details on her coaching sessions, click here.
Paolo Iorio SAYS –
What should I be eating to make me Run Fantastic?
You may find it hard to believe it, but we are nearly half way through Run Jantastic and so I thought it would be useful to remind you about the importance of using the right foods to fuel you whilst you are training!
Lots of you will use energy bars and drinks at training sessions and on race day and as well as being convenient they are great for a quick boost of energy, however it’s also important to think of your everyday diet when you are in training for an event.
To give your body everything it needs for better health and running, consider including as many of the below 6 into your everyday diet;
Seeds – packed full of health-boosting components, e.g. Pumpkin seeds which have bone important nutrients such as zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. Flax seeds, a valuable source of Omega 3 and great for people who don’t like oily fish.
Coloured fruit and vegetables x 5 per day – most of us are familiar with the ‘5 a day’ concept, however try and ensure that your 5 a day include a wide variety of colours. The pigments in fruit and veg have a whole host of benefits including lowering your risk of cancer, heart disease and can also help to reduce inflammation caused by heavy exercise!
Skins – Put down that peeler! Skins on fruit and veg contain a whole load of good stuff, ranging from fibre, vitamin C, through to antioxidants.
For the unlucky ones of you, who have been suffering with colds, also remember that pound for pound, potatoes contain more vitamin C than oranges!
The white stuff – drink milk and eat milk products that come from animals. Calcium builds strong bones which are great for runners but dairy products are also rich in protein which can help speed recovery too.
Fish and other seafood – an excellent source of quality protein, Omega 3 and also zinc, copper and chromium. Omega 3s found in fish have anti-inflammatory capabilities which gives them the potential to counter exercise-induced muscle soreness.
Meat, poultry and free-range eggs – Eating lean meats, poultry and eggs allows runners to meet their increased protein needs but they are also a great source of zinc and iron which support healthy red blood cells and a strong immune system.
And finally, some gentle reminders of Healthy Habits for us all!
- If you are too busy to cook then plan your meals in advance and have nutritious food ready to go in the fridge or freezer!
- Aim to have several alcohol-free days per week
Look after your body
- Streeeeeeeeetccccccchhhhhhhh after every training session
- Listen to your body, treat any niggles before they turn into more severe injuries
Sleep & Recovery
- Get a good nights sleep. If you struggle to sleep, try to get into a night-time routine, which must include turning off your phone, so say goodnight to Facebook and get yourself a good nights sleep!
- Find ways to unwind and relax yourself, e.g. meditation, listening to music, reading, having a bath.
Good luck with reaching all your Run Fantastic goals!!
Please feel free to contact Paolo if you need support with any Run Fantastic injuries, strains or niggles.
Paolo from P.I.Osteopathy –
For backs and beyond! Osteopathic treatments use a combination of movement, stretching, targeted deep tissue massage and manipulation of muscles and joints to relieve pain, improve function and aid recovery. Although renowned for treating back pain, it can also offer relief for a wide range of musculoskeletal issues. Please feel free to contact me if you need support with any Run Fantastic injuries, strains or niggles and I’ll aim to keep you Fantastic.
Kelly Knight –
Chi Running coach says “Let’s create some positive energy, how I hear you cry??? Lift from the crown of your head!!” To read more on the great techniques used in Chi Running, click here. To contact Kelly for more information and details on her coaching sessions, click here.
Kassia’s Blog –
Woman. Mother. Daughter. Wife. Marathoner. Enthusiastic. Optimistic. Daydreamer. Morning person. Extroverted exterior with an introverted soul. Child of the 80s. parkrun event director. To read this awesome blog, click here.