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BEGIN THE MENTAL PREPARATION FOR THE RACE

Most of the details of the psychological aspects of running are discussed in post 7. The essential features are to understand yourself, your mental weaknesses and strengths, and your self-concept. When you are competing, it is important to control your anxiety and arousal levels before the race and to “run the race in your mind” (i.e, visualize the race) as often as possible. Another feature not mentioned by psychologists is to store “creative energy” by avoiding all creative activities in the last few days before the race.

Storing Creative Energy. During this period of mental preparation, runners are frequently at their most eccentric.

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A colleague who missed one ultramarathon because of influenza now refuses to work for the last 7 days before the race. When not running during this period, he dons a surgical mask, takes leave of his family, and cloisters himself in a sterile environment, accompanied only by a library of Eastern philosophy. At such times, only those who are known to be free of marathon-destroying germs have access to him.

This reaction should not be regarded as unusual. The correctly trained runner is on the knife’s edge and is mildly irriExercises and at an increased risk for infection.

The runner has worked hard for what will be a once-only chance and is physically ready. Now this runner must seek out the correct environment so that the final arbiter of marathon performancethe mindcan be equally well prepared.

Like my colleague who finds his answers in Eastern philosophy, the runner aiming for a best marathon must devote time during the last week to mental preparation for the race. For the lonely long-distance runner about to face a most taxing ordeal, this mental preparation, I suspect, is best done in solitude.

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