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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > May-17 > 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?

MENTAL STRENGTH

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.”

Head coach

Creating such a mindset is not a chance event. “Your mind can be trained just as your body,” says Lane. “And like physical preparation, it follows the same principles of specificity – you would train differently for a 100m than a marathon, for instance – and progression.”

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About Men's Running

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life and when it comes to running nothing could be truer. Whether novice or veteran, once you’ve got your running shoes on the world opens up to you unlike it does for any other sport. If you just want to pound the pavements you can start the moment you step out the door, either following a beaten path or taking a psycho geographical approach to an area. Or you can head off into nature and run the trails, marked or unmarked, and experience the unique challenges they have to offer. At this time of year those who prefer their runs organised can enter multiple events every weekend – from tiny attendance 10Ks to mass participation marathons – and build up quite a medal collection in the process. And if a marathon isn’t quite long enough for you, the growing number of ultra events means your endurance ambitions are well catered for. Then there are the OCRs, charity dashes, duathlons, triathlons and of course your local parkrun. All of which add to the diversity you enjoy when being part of the running community, whatever your ability. Our aim at Men’s Running is to cover all of these bases and offer a balanced view of what it is to be a runner and the issues and topics that affect and interest us all. Drop us an email on mensrunning@wildbunchmedia.co.uk and let us know how we’re geting on – we’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to head over to mensrunning.co.uk for more reviews and features, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.
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