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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > March 2019 > ALL IN THE MIND

ALL IN THE MIND

INCREASINGLY, OUR RUNNING CHAMPIONS ARE PUTTING THEIR VICTORIES DOWN TO TRAINING WHAT’S ABOVE THEIR NECKS AS WELL AS BELOW THEM. SO IS MENTAL STRENGTH REALLY THE SECRET TO THEIR SUCCESS?

As a famous Mancunian pop star once mused, “Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?” It’s a good question, although we’re pretty sure Morrissey (for it was he) wasn’t referring to the last six miles of a marathon. You’d have to ask his erstwhile guitar slinger Johnny Marr for an informed answer to that as the six-stringed genius completed the NYC marathon in a respectable 3:54:18. But we digress. The relationship between grey matter and the thing that carries it around has been at the centre of sporting performance since time immemorial. And when it comes to running, even with talent and physical ability, if your mental toughness is lacking then your potential will definitely be limited.

“All runners will have had a day where they felt fast, strong and mentally tough,” says Andy Lane, a professor of sports psychology, “but they will just as likely have had more runs where every step was difficult, they questioned what they were doing, and negative thoughts and feelings accompanied every step.

“My job as a sports psychologist is to develop a plan to make a positive state of mind highly likely. From that positive mindset, the best performance possible will follow.”

Spectators at the London Marathon help runners through the tough latter stages of the race
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About Men's Running

For the last three years running, I’ve had the same New Year’s resolutions: to learn Japanese and to play electric guitar. I’m not sure what the sell-by date of these should be but to suffice to say I can say ‘goodbye’ in Japanese and the only riff I know is Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water – hardly the stuff rock legends are made of. But, more happily, my running resolutions are already proving more successful this year. First, was just to run more often. Lifestyle changes, dodgy Achilles and lack of motivation meant that the last two years have been something of a running wilderness. But renewed enthusiasm over the last 12 months has seen a return to something approaching form and my goal to improve all-round strength is definitely working. I’m running fewer miles but a focus on conditioning has seen marked improvement. Thankfully, this month’s guide lays the foundations for making 2019 your best running year. From top advice on how to nail your tempo running to how to improve your mental focus; the best time of day to run and how to come back from injury, we’ve brought everything together to make sure 2019 is a PB year!