When the going gets tough…the tough get going. Or so the saying goes. But controlling ones mind isn’t as easy as being tough, it’s a skill and one you can practice and improve. Here are some tips:
1) Accept that races will take you to some dark places mentally. This isn’t just part of the experience it’s WHY you do it. You want that challenge. You want to face some demons. Just like a wall, or fire jump, it’s an obstacle and seeing it that way will make it just part of the race and you will be prepared for it, not crushed by it.
2) Know it gets better. No matter how bad things get, it won’t last forever. You will finish or you will come around (and if you are racing an ultra like Ultra Beast or Toughest Mudder it will go from bad to good to bad to good several times!) Seeing the discouragement as temporary is critical to getting through it.
3) Give to get. Cheer your fellow racers. Thank a volunteer. The positive mental attitude you give, will come back at you. Plus you should do this anyways even when in a good place.
4) Focus on the good. Look at the prettiness of the venue. The sky. Focus on the fact that you are there when others can’t be, wouldn’t be, or aren’t able to do what you do. If nothing else celebrate that you are alive and taking a step forward.
5) Find the thing you love. In training imagine something you draw strength from. Could be a person, or cause or memory. And when the going gets tough focus on it to bring you back to a better mental state. Knowing where you will go with your mind ahead of time puts you in control of the darkness and doubts.
Now get out there and be tough!