Ian Mountford return for another in his regular columns.  We all go out and spend our hard earned on go faster kit of various kinds and types but Ian thinks that the answer to improving your times might lie closer to home than your local running shop…

There are a million types of running shoe, watches and monitors that will make sure you track your various outputs, and the full range of clothing in every colour and style you could ever wish for. But the piece of kit that keeps me going more than any other, and the one we all tend to neglect more often than we should, is our brain. The way we think about our running, and the way we apply our mind to the small parts that make up what is a truly simple process, makes us the runner we are and leads to the results we see every time we step out.

When we get a nice bit of kit – one that makes us feel great when we use it and gives us fabulous results – we look after it. We use it often, we keep it in as good shape as we can, and we rely on it to give us the same results over and over again. We need to do the same things with our heads, and invest some time and effort into enhancing the way we think about our running. The way we set our goals and the way we train for them. The way we approach each and every training session. The way we deal with pain and get the best results from the time we spend on the roads. The way we are going to celebrate when we reach our goals… and so on.

A little bit of work here can go a long, long way. There are many times in the middle of a race when a simple bit of self-talk can get you through a bad patch. Many coaches get their athletes to learn a trigger word or phrase to snap them into a new stage of the race, for example. Getting a picture in your mind of how great you’ll feel with the finisher’s medal around your neck can also work wonders, so practice by thinking of that image at a certain time during each session.

This process doesn’t have to be a deep psychological analysis of strengths and weaknesses drawn onto a flip chart. Just think about your goals, your training, and the race that is your target, and do some research online with the large number of resources available and find some tools that you can use for yourself. My favourite is a book called ‘[amazon_link id=”0951954326″ target=”_blank” ]The Mental Game Plan[/amazon_link] – getting psyched for sport’ by Stephen J. Bull (Sports Dynamics, 1996) and I thoroughly recommend it if you can get hold of a copy. And if you find something new and feel like sharing, let us know.

Ian Mountford has been a runner for over 20 years, and uses the pool and his bike for a bit of ‘competitive crosstraining’ every now and again. He’s also on Twitter and blogs about his sport here.

One thought on “My most important piece of running ‘kit’

  1. So true – the kit is the tip of the iceberg. The stuff that keeps us going is deep deep within our brains – it has to be trained too.

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