Much research has been conducted around theories of neuroplasticity –the brain's ability to learn and change at any age. With mental training, runners can take advantage of the brain’s ability to continually improve and adapt.
Deena Kastor, Olympic Medalist and American record holder in the marathon, stresses the importance of positive thinking in her mental training practice.
“Positivity is the greatest asset to our striving,” she writes in an email to Fleet Feet. “Gratitude is my favorite and most long-standing positivity practice. I write down three unique things I’m grateful for each day.”
Runners can harness the power of visualization as a regular practice to prime the mind for success, rather than allow it to default into catastrophic thinking.
“Gratitude releases endorphins into your bloodstream,” Kastor says. “When I fatigue at the end of a run or race, I put my mind in a place of gratitude and always feel the rewards that that practice brings.”
Here are a few ways to incorporate mental training into your running practice.
For each exercise, find a quiet space where you can sit or lie down for ten to twenty minutes with your eyes closed in concentration.