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The Power of the Mind

Last week I wrote a blog about the importance of visualization.  I can’t remember what gave me the idea, but it’s a powerful tool that we can all benefit from.  Since then, I have come across several more articles explaining the powerful role of the mind in athletic performance.  My favorite is one by Chrissie Wellington, the coolest and happiest four time World Ironman Champion I’ve ever seen.  (Who knew it was possible to smile so much after completing a 140.6 mile event?)

Chrissie Wellington:

“I believe that it is my mind that has carried me through to some of my greatest victories — a mind that I have had to work hard to train and hone…. Training the brain will be as important as training the body. And although some characteristics are innate (self-motivation, drive, determination, stubbornness), I also think that there are strategies and tools that you can learn, develop and deploy.”

Some of her mind over matter techniques are:

1) Have a mantra and/or a special song to repeat (Wellington’s is “Never, ever give up – and smile.”)
2) Keep a bank of positive images
3) Practice visualization beforehand
4) Break up the race into smaller, more manageable segments
5) Remember that training is about learning to hurt
6) Get people to support you
7) Mentally recall inspirational people

I love all of these but perhaps the one that sticks with me the most is training is about learning to hurt.  This article about peaking before an athletic event, explores the idea that it isn’t the fact that an athlete’s fitness improves significantly over a season, but instead it’s that the athlete learns how to better handle pain.  It reminds me of a quote I saw once – “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”  Our bodies can only carry us so far. It is our mind that will carry us a little farther.  


Chrissie Wellington, 2008 Ironman
Photo Source – Dontworry on Wikimedia Commons



Just look how freakin’ cute and happy this lady is…

Here’s to a great weekend!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


7 Comments Post a comment
  1. nerdthatruns #

    training the mind and running with the mind in your control is so important. I’ve had my best times in the half-marathon because i had a mind of steel and visualized the perfect race! great post!

    July 20, 2012
    • I totally agree! Do you have any tips for creating a mind of steel? I’m always looking to learn more so I can race better 🙂
      Thanks for the comment!!

      July 20, 2012
  2. There are physiological gains to be had by learning to run through the pain – it’s more than just a mental technique. Several recent studies have indicated that it is our brain that begins to signal that our muscles are fatiguing, far before we reach the point of potentially doing any damage, as a defense mechanism. Thus, if we first begin to push beyond what the brain is signaling us, and then gain in strength from doing so, we improve both mentally and physically.

    July 20, 2012
    • I’m going to remember that this morning for my run – that the brain starts to signal that our muscles are fatiguing far before we reach the point of doing any damage. 🙂 It’s crazy – just by suggesting that I feel like my run is going to be super awesome today!

      July 21, 2012
  3. Thanks for the opportunity of learning somethings here.

    August 31, 2012

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Knottted Muscle « Run Inspired.
  2. Chrissie Wellington | Run Inspired.

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