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How to Control Intensity and Get in the Right Mindset Before a Big Race

When race day arrives, having the right mindset can be the deciding factor in your success. Learn how to make mindset preparation an integral part of your training so you get the most from yourself in running and beyond.

With the countless hours we devote to preparing our bodies to run events like a speedy 5k or a marathon PR, it’s easy to forget that training your brain is equally (if not more!) important. Making sure you approach both training and racing with the right mindset can make an enormous difference in the outcome of your event.

Learning how to train your brain means that you first need to know what mindset serves you best. Do you need to relax and find a distraction before a big race? Or do you prefer to psych yourself up to feel energized and ready to take on the course?

The better you understand yourself and what degree of intensity benefits you before a workout or race, the easier it becomes to find and maintain that level of intensity. As with anything, practice makes perfect. Implementing strategies like visualization needs to happen well before race day.

Dr. Nicole Detling on mindset preparation & race day intensity

This week’s guest on the podcast knows the importance of mindset, and has worked with athletes on the world’s biggest stages.  Dr. Nicole Detling received her BA in psychology and sports science from Ohio Wesleyan University, her MS in sport psychology from Ithaca College, and her PhD in sport psychology at the University of Utah. She is a certified mental performance consultant and coauthor of the book “Don’t Leave Your Mind Behind.”

While we have glimpsed what the human body is capable of with extraordinary feats like a sub-2 hour marathon, opportunity for continued success comes from harnessing the power of our mind. In our  conversation, Nicole and I discuss how to approach intensity and make mindset training part of your pre-race preparation. She makes mental training practical and accessible, and will help you learn

  • How pre-race intensity levels vary for different types of races 
  • Ways to discover your optimal energy state
  • How elite athletes approach mental training
  • Strategies to get yourself up and calm yourself down before a race
  • Exercises that can help prepare you for race day visualization
  • How “Plan Z” preparation can help prevent you from ever having to use it
  • The minimum effective dose of visualization for race day preparation

This is a fascinating discussion that will benefit runners of every level, and can help your approach to other challenging areas in your life. Enjoy!

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Links & Resources from the Show:

Thank you MOBO Board!

Invented by renowned physical therapist Jay Dicharry, MOBO helps you stabilize your stance with an innovative rocker board that’s set up on two fins. The design effectively forces you to drive your big toe into the bboard to improve your stability. I was pretty arrogant going into my first session on the MOBO Board. How hard can it be to balance, right? Well, I was humbled pretty quickly!

Even if you’re a good runner, better balance, stability, and proprioception is going to help you have a more powerful stride and prevent more running injuries. You’ll learn how to improve the efficiency of the kinetic chain from your hip to your big toe. Because as Jay likes to say, it’s not just how strong you are, but how well you use that strength. Save 10% with code STRENGTHRUN10 at checkout at

Thank You Athletic Greens!

Thank you to our sponsor, Athletic Greens! They are a health and wellness company that makes AG1. This is a category-leading greens mix that has 75 vitamins and minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, antioxidants, and adaptogens.

One scoop per day is what I’ve been doing to help me fill in any nutrition gaps in my diet. It also provide a nice boost of energy and focus throughout the day. With all 3 of my kids in school, I know I need to support my immune system or else I’m getting sick and can’t train.

I also love that AG1 has changed over the last decade. Athletic Greens has made 53 improvements to the formula based on the latest research to make these nutrients more absorbable.

For our listeners, they are offering a year’s worth of free Vitamin D and 5 free travel packs of AG1 with your first purchase. You can sign up for single shipment or for a monthly drop – the choice is yours. Check out Athletic Greens to redeem your offer today.

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