Although it is not a muscle, training the brain is a fundamental aspect for an athlete. The mental strength of an athlete will be as decisive during a competition as his physical condition, so finding that desired balance between both issues will undoubtedly mark the objectives that he can achieve.
A sporting event like the marathon will inevitably take the athlete to their physical limit, so reaching the end requires being really strong mentally, both during the competition and in the preparation beforehand. It is not surprising that in modern sport so much emphasis is placed on the importance of drawing up a specific training plan in this regard.
It is true that depending on the athlete or discipline, concentration can be trained or enhanced with the most disparate methods or routines. Former swimmer Michael Phelps (with 23 Olympic gold medals) popularized a widespread habit among many athletes such as training and improving concentration through a game of strategy such as poker. To such an extent did the American take it seriously that he came to participate in a massive tournament of the prestige of the Bahamas PCA in which PokerStars brings together the best professionals in the world with prizes of millions of dollars. Totally different from this “method” is another champion like Rafa Nadal, who uses his tics and his unique habit of placing his drinks as part of his concentration, and who continue to give him such good results.
Need for a plan to keep our motivation
Apart from other issues such as choosing a timely testing schedule or carrying out the proper nutrition that is so important in any sport, the preparation for these long-distance races is basically limited to designing an optimal training strategy. This is where that mental strength that allows us to express ourselves and take our physical state to a higher tone becomes more important.
The preparation for such demanding tests puts our motivation in check again and again and we must be ready to overcome that obstacle. This is more than evident when even the fastest marathon runner on the planet, Eliud Kipchoge , refers us again and again to discipline and the best plan during preparation as his great secret to success, and we already see what he has achieved . Without a doubt, the mind is a fundamental part of this plan.
By default , our brain always seeks our well-being, which collides with the effort and suffering that we have to face to fine-tune our body . This derives in that search for excuses that we have all experienced and that invite us to end our discomfort. Justifications of the type, I’m late, today it’s too hot, I’m sure tomorrow I’ll feel more motivated for this, etc., lead to a loss of form and motivation in equal parts.
The planning of this important nuance in our preparation is going to be decisive and involves previously defining some guidelines, such as setting a real objective and within our possibilities . It is easier to stay motivated and train hard for a goal that is within our reach.
Choosing a suitable training scenario for our conditions will be essential in order not to run into those surprises that often lead us to suspend our routine, and which, on the other hand, will allow us to anticipate the difficulties that already appear regularly.
Keeping a good record of results is also important when it comes to motivation, thus verifying that the training is working, or providing data that indicates what things can be modified to improve progression.
In addition, it is convenient to value the work and effort made in search of the goals or marks that are being achieved. Analyze the details that are incorporated and the result they provide in order to choose the model to follow. As for the mistakes that we are inevitably going to make, we will try to give them importance only in their fair measure and accept that they are part of the process to improve.
If to all this we know how to add that adequate dose of pleasure that comes from doing something we like, we will be on the right track to achieve our goals.