Champions Mindset - Female Runner

Power Through Your Race with a Champion’s Mindset

The mind is a powerhouse. Your mindset can be your biggest asset or your greatest enemy. You can be in amazing shape physically and have excellent preparation but your mind can take you on a downward spiral in a second. It can also take you to great places you never thought were possible! For everything you think in your mind, your body has a reaction – whether it is real or imagined. Before the brain revolution, the mind and body were treated separately, but now we know they are closely connected. 

Mindset and Endurance

By large, endurance racing is about coping. The job of the muscles is to perform, and the job of the mind is to cope. Muscles can only perform to the degree that the mind is able to cope, thus the phrase “mind over muscle.” Most athletes succumb mentally before they do physically.

Whether this is your first 5k or 20th half marathon, we all have struggles along the journey to the finish line, both physical and mental. We all get pre-race nerves. We are human. How do we tackle that? It starts with your mindset! We prepare the best we can, anticipate obstacles, embrace them, and hit them head on with all we have. Just like our life experiences, racing makes us better and more equipped for the next challenge. 

Four Tips to Set Your Race-Day Mindset

To focus on race-day mindset, let’s begin with a FACT:

You are stronger than you think! I don’t know you, but I know this is the beautiful truth. We all have an inner strength—I affectionately call it our “inner superhero.” We just need to acknowledge it and practice tapping into it (which can be fun).

  1. Connect with your WHY.

Maybe this is your first race, you are on your way to hitting a specific goal, you really connect with the race charity, you love the companionship of your team, or you just want to enjoy the outdoors. Get excited about your “Why.” While racing, there are inspirations everywhere, just keep an eye out and you will find them!

  1. You can do anything for a short time with the right mindset.

Races are short, just fractions of your day. That finish line is inevitably met with a flood of emotion, satisfaction, and sense of accomplishment for the work put forth. Visualize your post-race plan and focus on that when you are feeling depleted. If you don’t have one, make one! Ideas: A brunch celebration with your running buddies or a loved one, a bubble bath, a FaceTime with a friend—whatever fills up your cup. My post-marathon tradition, for example, is champagne and a burger. 

  1. Be kind to yourself. 

Try self-talk that encourages. While you are racing, park your thoughts on those that propel you forward. Did you know the thought of something negative is 4 to 7 times more powerful than a positive one and once you express that verbally it is 40 to 70 times more powerful than a positive one? Repeat a phrase or code word that makes you feel empowered and strong! 

  1. Know you can do hard things. You really can.

Stay in the present and be the unrelenting MASTER of your mind. I believe in never giving up, even in the impossible, regardless of circumstances. It is a practice in perspective. Choose confidence. Choose belief. Choose strength and don’t let your mind slip out of that state of being. It does not matter if things don’t work out. That happens too. 

If I look back on races where I worked so hard and did not meet a goal, or had challenges such as running a marathon while weak and physically ill, or in pain with a broken toe, or facing very unpleasant weather, those experiences helped me the most—both in running and in life.

Put on your virtual “superhero cape,” leave everything out on that racecourse, and most of all, have a happy feeling in your heart! Embrace what comes your way. 

You are moving forward and that is a beautiful thing. 

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Stephanie is a mom of three, Institute for Integrative Nutrition certified health coach, former triathlete, and avid runner. She has completed 21 marathons (13 Boston Marathons) and has a passion for health, wellness and helping others achieve their goal.

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