Physical or mental?
In the athletic world, much of training is focused on hitting specific workouts and developing the muscles and body to achieve athletic goals.
After a stellar race performance, your instinct is to attribute that success to specific physical achievements from training. Was it the one big workout you crushed? Or maybe it was the high weekly mileage you sustained throughout the training cycle? While the physical training (hardware) is certainly necessary, the mental training for running—your software—is often neglected.
Think back to a race in which you excelled. What were you were thinking about during the race? You likely weren’t thinking about how terrible you felt and telling yourself you couldn’t do it. Instead, you remember how great you were feeling, or maybe you don’t remember much of the race at all because you were in the zone.
On the other hand, the opposite is likely true of how you were feeling mentally during a poor performance. Each step was accompanied by a negative thought questioning whether you could even make it to the finish.
The interesting distinction between the great race and the poor race is that you may not have been in better shape physically for either one. In fact, you could have been in better physical shape for the poor race. The difference was simply your mindset. But how does your mind make such a big difference?