Tuesday, May 12, 2009


How would you like to run like this in your 80s?

The following is an extract from a speech Earl Fee made about his book, "The Complete Guide to Running" Here he talks a little about mental training. My comments are in bold.

Many runners are spending about 6 to 12 hours per week on running training but hardly anyone is spending even 1 minute per week on mental training. (Being somewhat of a self help book junkie I was very interested to see how these kind of techniques can be used to help one run better)

If you are knowledgeable about the mental techniques and practise them frequently you can greatly improve your performance. You need to learn about the many relaxation, breathing, visualization, focusing techniques and assertive statements.(I've noticed as I've increased my training efforts, mileage, and intensity, it takes great strength of mind to continue, follow through on the plans I've set. Today I had a goal of trying to run as many sub 3:45Ks as I could but was only able to do 6 before I called it quits. I didn't have any lactate acid problems and I think my body was up for a few more but my mind was screaming to me from the 3rd K on to stop. "It's too hot, it said; You're not fit enough for this; Is that a pain in your knee? Did you leave the oven on?" Well you get the picture.)

Vividly imagining is like the real experience The nervous system does not know the difference. This visualization technique is further reinforced by assertive statements which you can use at any time during the day, Repeat to yourself positive statements like” I can run relaxed and light.” “I am strong and prepared.” etc. One powerful technique is to act as if. By acting relaxed, confident and energized you can actually achieve these characteristics. ( I fully endorse what Mr. Fee says about being positive. While I was a really active positive kid, in the last 20 years I've not always been that way. But recently I try to put a positive spin on everything even if I do come off sounding like a bit of a tool. Example Person A: "Hey Scott how was your weekend?" Scott: "Well it was less of a weekend and more of a journey of personal fulfillment." Person A: "You're a wanker!")

Mental training can give you that winning edge. (Once more I totally agree. It has certainly worked for old Earl and it may, I mean will work for me too.)


  1. In terms of positive mental attitude there is a line between being good and positive (optimistic) and being, as person A describes it, a wanker. Any time I've been to the US I've found myself being super duper positive while at home here in Ireland I am more of a whiner. I always feel in America that positivity feeds positivity while here being negative is a defence mechanism - like when you tell everyone you think you failed the exam and then you get a B+. It feels much better than having said 'I think I did well enough to get an A-' and then you get your B+.

  2. I'm sure a positive attitude is important, and the mental training techniques may be helpful also.
    I think the problem with your 1k intervals was that you did not have a specific goal. "As many as I can" is bound to be difficult mentally. And of course, if you did six, then six was as many as you could do, so...goal achieved! Not that you have a basis for comparison, you can set a specific goal for the next session: maybe 7, maybe 6 in 3:42. Then keep upping the ante. Of course, you can't up the ante every time out, because you won't feel great every time out and because you won't continue to improve forever, but you can set monthly goals. Perhaps 6 this month, 7 next month, and so on. And when you reach what you think is your limit, then your goal is to stay there. Personally, however, I think that 6 is a good amount. I would prefer to stay at 6 and try to take the time down. 6000m is generally considered to be the optimum distance for an interval workout (plus the jog intervals). Set reasonable goals and you will have the satisfaction of achieving them, leading to a more positive attitude!

  3. Uh, sorry, that last comment was me. I was logged in to Google under a different name.

  4. If you said "less of a weekend and more of a journey of personal fulfillment" down here you'd get your coffee/beer poured over your head.

    "Leave the oven on" as an excuse? Come on wanker! Anyway, wouldn't that be the wife?

    Seriously though, excellent food for thought there - mental attitude could be the right tool to outwit the governor, or run 'in the moment' as mentioned in Canute's recent post.

  5. So if I vividly imagine making love to Scarlett Johansson, my nervous system will believe it to have actually happened, which is to say that in material terms, it will be entirely as if it had happened? Cool!! I hope her boyfriend (or is she married these days?) never finds out. Or my wife!! I may have to vividly imagine my hand clamped firmly around her full mouth to prevent the vivid sounds of pleasure that will be vividly piercing the silence. Crikey! This is powerful stuff!

  6. "I was logged in to Google under a different name.Bob, I thought you said you had given that stuff up ;-)

  7. I think blade is right it helps to follow a program and have set goals to achieve!
    Mental strength is very important, I beat the younger faster guys in my club at the london marathon because I could handle the pain of competition better!
    Pain is good! Pain is good!
    I dare to kick your butt, etc, chant this every day before breakfast!