Isn’t it funny how runners usually focus all their energy on training – when their psychology is arguably a lot more important?
The great Yogi Berra quote is about baseball, but it might as well be:
Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.
His point is that sports have an enormous mental component. Without having the right mindset about running, you’re destined to fail.
Consider two runners with equal talent and fitness levels. One of them relishes the challenge of hard workouts, loves the solitude of long runs, and can’t wait to test herself during her next race.
But the other can’t bring himself to get out of bed to run before work, actively avoids workouts because “they’re hard,” and skips runs when it’s cold or raining.
It’s clear that the first runner is going to be massively more successful, despite having the same physical tools at her disposal as the less successful runner.
In other words, your training will only get you so far. If you lack the mental models for success, you’ll never achieve your potential.
It should also come as no surprise that one of my favorite running books is Matt Fitzgerald’s Brain Training…
Because those mental models – the motivation, discipline, and habits that foster success – enable you to work hard.
And we all know that hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.
I’ve invited a psychologist on the podcast to help improve your own inner psychology for more mental toughness, tenacity, and discipline.
Use the Muscle That Matters
In The Matrix Reloaded, Agent Smith asks Neo, “Still using all the muscles except the one that matters?”
I can’t get this quote out of my head when it comes to sports psychology. The power of the brain can’t be denied – particularly when it comes to running, where it’s essential to achieve your goals.
Just think: during any race, the fastest runners are pushing themselves toward more pain. They’re not trying to avoid it like a football player. They’re embracing it.
That takes a certain mindset – and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Enter Dr. Justin Ross.
Dr. Ross is a health psychologist, triathlete and Boston-qualifying marathoner, and founder of Mind Body Health in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in sports and performance psychology, pain management, stress reduction, and other areas of the mind-body connection.
In this podcast interview, we discuss the intricacies of mental training: managing arousal, reducing anxiety, and behavioral change.
I also tell a lot of stories about my high school and college running memories which you might enjoy. But you’ll definitely enjoy it when Dr. Ross puts me on the spot to ask about my inner self-talk!
Resources and Links
- Mind Body Health
- Episode 5 of the SR Podcast (Steve Kamb on how to make exercise easy)
- How to Train Your Brain for Your Next Race
- Dr. Justin Ross on Twitter
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