The Prudential Ride 100 & Ride 46

Saturday after Chasewater parkrun we quickly showered and rode our cycles to Lichfield Trent Valley Railway Station. We managed to get seats the whole way to London and in under 2 hours we were at Euston Railway Station. The next section of the journey was to cycle 800 metres to Kings Cross and one change to get to the Excel Centre to pick up our numbers. It would of been easier without a cycle but it actually went quite well.

It was nice to get our numbers and a free water bottle. There were lots of stalls selling cycle equipment for the serious cyclists. I had entered for the 100 mile but due to my poor fitness I did the 46 mile.

We then got on the train again and finally got to our accommodation in Bow. We had booked it with Air BnB. I was tired at that point and got a bit worried that there was every number in the crescent except our number…..number 1 and the host of the property wasn’t there. Anyway to our relieve he came and was friendly, the accommodation wasn’t the Ritz, it was an ex-local authority flat, but we didn’t pay much so we were happy. After a small rest we were off for Food & Pub.

The next day we both had fairly late starts so it was an easy cycle to the Start. Everything seem to go fine other than in the short 2 miles there my husband got a puncture.

I saw lots of people on side of the road and apparently there were quite a few crashes but I got to end o.k., where my husband had finish earlier, even though he started later. There was only one hill in the 46 which was at Wimbledon so a perfect event for a beginner.

We had a great day. It was such a good choice to do the 46 miler as we weren’t too tired to cycle back to Euston and then catch our train back to the Midlands.

Grand Union Canal Race: a 145 mile Ultra Run by Akgun Ozsoy

Grand Union Canal Race

Two years ago, I was standing near to Catherine-de-Barnes bridge, watching GUCR runners who are passing through the 1st checkpoint along the way to London. It looked impossible for me at that time but when I looked for 100+ miles to run after completing a few 100 miles races, I’ve put this epic event into the top of my list. A couple of my ultra-friends including Rodrigo Freeman, Özgür Güleç, Iain Stewart and Stephen Braithwaite finished this race and their effort impressed me as well.

GUCR is the oldest ultra in this country and the event still keeps its traditions despite the modern era races. The race starts in Gas Street Basin in Birmingham and you should follow the canal path up to Little Venice in London. There are only 10 Checkpoints and the distance between them may vary from 10 to 20 miles!

My goal was to complete this around 40 hours but of course, it was my first attempt and any result within cut-off (45 hours) was OK. One of the points that I have learnt from my ultra-running experience was not to think about the remaining distance. Just focus on next CP and try to increase the buffer as much as you can.

You should not kill yourself in any case and preserve energy for the rest of this long journey. The first day was too warm and I could not keep running after 22 miles.

By the evening, I have increased my pace and arrived 70 miles CP (Navigation Inn) at 22:15. Night section was very good for me and managed to leave 99 miles CP around 08:00 (4 hours before the cut-off) I was at 45th position at that point. Luckily, the second day was not warm as the first one and despite the tiredness; I kept run-walk strategy until the end.

My last goal was arriving Little Venice before dark and I guess I managed this by finishing the race at 21:25. (39:24 race time) Finished 31st where there were 97 starters and 52 finishers.

Although I prefer hilly races, this relatively flat race has its own challenges. Using the same muscles kills your knees and ankles. However, this is another beauty of ultra-running. Variety of difficulties make them impossible to compare with any other race.

Even the same course offers different challenges at a different time of the day or year.

Thanks all for your support. Special thanks to Sean Lynch for his support at the 10th mile and my lovely wife Reside Ozsoy for her invaluable support at (and after) the finish.

Results

https://canalrace.org.uk/grand-union-canal-race/results/2019/

Strava:

https://www.strava.com/activities/2402029471

#gucr2019 #gucr145 #uknetrunner #grandunioncanalrace #birmingham #littlevenice #gucr @ Little Venice, London

Good parkrun blogs.

Good parkrun reviewers. I’ve taken this list of really good blogs off ‘The parkrun journey’ Facebook site.

Robert Skedgell the moderator wrote:

“There are quite a few excellent blogs by parkrun tourists. As there are so many that it’s hard to keep track of them, I’ll keep a list in this post. Where the author is a member of this group, I’ll tag them next to the entry.”

I’ll try to update this site as well.

parkruns by Steve Stockwell

http://www.blog7t.com/

Get Down, Shep! by Ali Sheppard

https://getdownshep.com/

Monday running by Gail Seal

https://mondayrunning.com/

Paul-Jeffrey.com by Paul Jeffrey

http://paul-jeffrey.com/

parkrun reviews by Chis Jeanes

https://crajeanes.wixsite.com/parkrun/home

Running to stand still by Toria Richards

https://mrsbridgewater.blogspot.com/

Running Scared by Lucy Marris.

https://runningscaredsite.wordpress.com/

The buggy runners diary by Jessica Sanderson

https://www.facebook.com/thebuggyrunnersdiary/

allscottishparkruns (allba) by Scott MacMichael

https://allscottishparkruns.wordpress.com/

Parkrun Poet by Tim Gardiner https://twitter.com/parkrunpoetry

@parkrunpoetry

Using Sport Psychology Self-Help Interventions

Athletes crave interventions that improve performance. Finding an intervention that works could involve working with a professional sports scientist or following a self-help package. Recent years has seen a rapid growth in the popularity in self-help interventions. Andy Lane offers guidance on how to use self-help interventions to improve performance. (Photo above: Andy Lane finishing Virgin Money London Marathon).

The nature of sport is that individuals strive to find methods to improve performance. Commercial activity to meet this demand has led to increased availability of products such as sports drinks, supplements, equipment modification and numerous self-help books.

In this article, Andy Lane focuses upon the use of self-help materials designed to give an athlete a psychological edge. However, it’s worth noting that physiological, biomechanical, technical and nutritional factors tend to work in tandem with psychological ones. Thus, anyone considering using a self-help intervention should remember that changing one aspect of performance could influence another. For example, in my experience with endurance athletes, interventions that bring about improvements in physiological indices that athletes see as important (lactic threshold, Vo2) are coupled with improvements in psychological ones. (below a runner taking a VO2 max test).

What is a self-help intervention?

An intervention occurs in a number of different ways. In other contexts, e.g., if you are feeling ill you could book an appointment at your GP.  Alternatively, if you have had the illness before, and believe you have correctly identified it, you could take an over-the-counter medication. The following stages lead to improved performance in sport:

1. Identify the problem

2. Implement the intervention and establish the criteria for judging effectiveness

3. Assessment its effectiveness

In sport psychology, the problem can be difficult to identify; an athlete might want to perform better but knowing which parts to work on is complex also assessing the effectiveness can be difficult, especially as psychological data tend to be subjective, an issue exacerbated by the fact that following a self-help intervention, you are both the client and consultant.

Self-help interventions and sport psychology: do they work?

There is an extensive literature that describes how to use self-help sport psychology interventions (1). I have contributed to this literature including authoring 17 Peak Performance articles (see www.pponline.com), each one offering self-help advice.

How do I know if this is good advice? How do I know if the interventions I propose work?

The intervention should be supported by theory and tested scientifically.

The evidence supporting the use of self-help psychological interventions is strong and not restricted to sport (2).

In clinical psychology, patients that followed an online self-help intervention for the treatment of anxiety and depression recovered as effectively (3). 

In health psychology, self-help interventions have helped people manage cravings when following diets (4).

In sport psychology, self-help interventions successfully led to runners not only experiencing more pleasant emotions but also performing better (5).

So how do I develop an effective self-help package?

The question an individual following a self-help intervention should ask her or himself is; “how do I identify where gains can be made”? With self-help interventions, the individual is also a consultant, and therefore, it is important to establish monitoring systems to enable identification of factors that appear to influence performance.  

Your training diary as a way of assessing whether an intervention is needed?

A training diary can be a very effective way of identifying which variables to target for intervention work. However, at least three factors influence the relative success of using a training diary to help guide interventions. First, the diary needs to capture important variables that influence performance and be open to the possibility that you are not assessing the right information. An individual following a self-help intervention needs to be open to new ideas and continue reading widely. The individual is both the client and the consultant, and we expect consultants to be professionals who keep up with the latest research.

With the data sitting in front of you, the key question is “how do I make sense of it so that I know how my performance can be improved”? When deciding what data to record, you should also consider what you will do with it. If you record time spent training then presumably you will use this information to gauge whether it was useful in helping you achieve your goal? If you believe that running long periods of time, or completing certain distances, will help you achieve your marathon goal, then seeing that you are running for longer is likely to improve your confidence. However, if confidence is also influenced by the relative intensity of each run, and you realise that you are running for longer but at a lower intensity your confidence to be able to run at the high intensity on race day may not necessarily be increased. In the example above, the athlete should reflect on whether distance covered is truly a marker of progress with a suggestion that speed needs to be considered and recorded. The key point here is to have a strategy on how you will analyse data and how this will relate to the relative achievement of your goals.

 A third factor to consider is that the act of keeping a training diary could be an intervention itself, particularly for helping manage unwanted emotions. Keeping a diary where you detail intense emotional experiences has been found to be an effective self-help strategy. Expressive writing is proposed to help process information better, and help restructure information from these experiences in a way that if such a situation arises next time, then they are better coped to deal with it (7).

Putting into practice

Training diaries for endurance athletes are aided by the use of modern technology. You can get satellite navigation technology on your mobile phone with numerous free apps available to help record and collate training. In this regard technology has provided a huge advantage in that it takes away potential biases deriving from inaccurate measurement. Further, all you need to do is put on the device, and press start and stop to record training. You do not need to write down what was done which brings in issues to do with the accuracy of recall especially if you do not record what was done shortly after the session.

In addition to this type of data, It’s suggested to record daily mood. Mood is a useful way of recording how well you are coping with training demands. Mood can be used to help balance your training so that you are recovered sufficiently so to maintain quality.

As indicated previously, expressive writing has been found to be an effective intervention strategy. By exploring the likely cause of unwanted emotions, you also begin to develop a blueprint that helps you recognisesituations which bring these and therefore provide opportunities through which to choose a different path to act in the future. For example, if speaking to competitors on the start line gets you particularly nervous, or their banter evokes anger which in turn affects your race strategy, then recognising this to be the case might help change your decision on where to warm-up. You could warm-up alone or rather than warming up near your competitors, and if situational factors prevent this, then listening to music via headphone can serve to block out their conversations. 

References

1. Inside sport psychology, Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2010

2. Clinical Psychological Review 2006; 13, 169-186

3. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 2011; 79: 123-128

4. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2008; 34: 381-393

5. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 2011; 10: 400-407. www.jssm.org/vol10/n2/22/v10n2-22pdf.pdf

6. Psychological Science 1997; 8: 162-166

Sport Psychology Consultant: Dr Andy Lane

Website @winninglane.com

Consultancy either by Skype £50 per 30 minutes or in person at CHHP (Harley Street, London, call for costs).

Vitality Big Half: Hayley Carruthers 4th Female 1.11 minutes! Hayley explains she is still in shock. Next race……London Marathon.

Hayley Carruthers must surely be one of England’s most promising athlete’s. She has only been running seriously for less than 3 years, yet she has achieved some amazing success. She was the first English Female finisher in the 2018 Great North Run and competed for her first time as an International English athlete in the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. With her new coach Dan Robinson her running has continued to improve and the Vitality Big Half was Hayley next challenge. She explained her experience;

“The big half in London was one of the best learning experiences of my running career so far. My goal for the Big Half was to beat some of the fastest women’s half marathon runners in the UK. To even attempt this was a huge honour. I would have never even considered this 1 year ago. Even though I ran a 3 minute PB (that I am extremely happy with), the euphoria of completing this race is deeper than that.”

“From mile 1 I felt I was running a pace that was far too fast for me to hold for 13.1 miles. Mile 2 I considered my first DNF. This was going to be really tough. When we hit the first headwind the pack of lead women/men separated quickly and I found myself running alone a few meters behind them unable to inject some pace to catch them back up. This was when my coach decided to sacrifice his race in order to run with me. He could see the panic stricken look in my face as I signalled to him I was in trouble.”

“I then reached into mental toughness toolkit. I began to use other’s legs to power my legs and switch off the focus of how much mine were hurting because I was not going to stop. When this stopped working I focused on lampposts/signs. Just get to the next one. Also, by concentrating on the fierce headwind that would come at regular intervals during the race allowed a longer term focus to split the race up quite well by distracting myself from what was to come and running in the moment. By switching through these mental strategies I allowed myself to run strong and relax regardless of how much I was hurting by separating the physical and mental cues. I was so focused within the last mile I ran straight into the back of Dan (my coach)! I felt so mentally strong I knew I could do it. This race taught me that I am a lot mentally tougher that I though I was.”

Above: Hayley and Dan (her coach and friend) finishing.

Above: Hayley and Dan (Coach And friend).

It is clear from everyone who has met Hayley she is modest and supportive of all runners no matter what speed they are. She is a regular park runner especially at her local Walsall parkrun.

Below: Hayley at Walsall parkrun (white top & black shorts).

Below: Hayley and her coach Dan Robinson at Walsall parkrun

You can follow Hayley on Twitter at @mileswithhayley and her coach Dan at @rungrylikeawolf Hayley also had Psychological Support with Dr. Andy Lane , of Winning Lane (website winninglane.com). You can follow him on Twitter at @AndyLane27 & partner Helen at @RunHelenLane

Marathon Talk Run Camp: 22nd-24th February 2019

A new venue for the Marathon Talk Run Camp was at Mt Cook, in the Peaks District. Not at our fittest we were a little hesitant at attending this year but we needed have worried as there were runners of all abilities.

We arrived at 3pm on Friday and got shown to our Pod. I was slightly worried that we would be cold sleeping in it, but we were as warm as toast.

After unpacking we had drinks at the Centre and chatted to other campers. We then went out for a Pub meal. By about 10pm the Bullock Smithy Ultra Runners finally turned up. They certainly didn’t look like they were ready for clubbing. They had run over 20 miles with over 2,000 feet of climbing. It looked dark and cold and they seemed happy to be inside.

On Saturday morning we woke early to have a great breakfast at the Centre then jumped in the car for a 15 minute journey to Bakewell parkrun. Bakewell parkrun is a very pretty parkrun on a disused Railway. It’s called the Monsal Trail.

After Bakewell parkrun we had too much food in the cafe and then went back for a shower followed by an enormous lunch. In the afternoon Liz Yelling and Holly Rush talked and answered questions by Tom Williams & Martin Yelling and the rest of us about about their training and their experiences of being athletes.

Liz Yelling

Holly Rush

This was followed by a hill reps, where runners were divided up into different abilities so everyone enjoyed it. As I’m not super fit at the moment I sat that session out.

After showering, everyone was ready for dinner. Great Food. Lots of healthy food, lots of fruit and choices for Vegans and Vegetarians. After eating the evening had only just begun. The after dinner Speaker was David Moorcroft.

David talk was so insightful, he was so, so down to earth and witty. He also showed the caring side of his personality when he talked about his competitors e.g., John Walker, Dick Quacks & Rod Dixon.

……and that wasn’t the end. We had a Raffle with amazing prizes and a quiz which Tony Audenshaw organised. The Raffle raised over £1,000 for Pancreatic Research. Everyone enjoyed the evening and the evening went on with a Disco for those with enough energy.

The next morning we got up to a full English Breakfast to eat before The Carsington Half Marathon and 10km.

It was perfect weather for the event. No wind, not hot just a beautiful day. Quite a few runners from the Run Camp won their age group or were overall first place. Including:

Dan Robinson: First finisher in the Carsington Water Half Marathon and breaking the existing record.

Holly Rush: First Female finisher in the Carsington Water Half Marathon

Patricia Keene and Brian Williams, both first in their age group.

February 2019 New Zealand holiday: parkruns and walks

Time to escape the British Winter again and try a few parkruns and walks in New Zealand again. We flew into Christchurch and out of Auckland as we were short of time. We had a day at the Zoo, day at Quake City (a small museum of the Christchurch Earthquakes). We spent everyday also walking. The photo above is the Crater Rim in the Port Hills near the sign of the Kiwi. It’s only a 15 minute drive out of Christchurch and has walks from 1-3 hours around it. The cafe there is great, lovely cold drinks iced coffee etc and vegetarian food.

After 4 days in in Christchurch we ran the Foster parkrun just south of Christchurch before flying to Wellington at 11am. It’s quite good that parkrun’s start at 8am as it wasn’t too hot.

eWe also did a mid week 5km in Wellington.We did quite a lot of walking in Wellington too. There are a lot of 3-4 hour walks including: The Red Rocks (Seals visit in the spring months), Mt Victoria, Mt Albert, The Brooklyn Turbines and loads more.

……and we swam a couple of mornings.

Another parkrun….this time the Greytown Woodside Trail parkrun (50miles NE of Wellington). It is still a fairly new parkrun with 45 finishers on the day we ran it. My husband stormed through in 3rd place!

The following day we both did the Round the Bays Races in Wellington. My husband did the 10km and I did the half marathon.

It was a lovely warm day and a really, really enjoyable event. I was a bit unfit and so must of been a bit tired because I tripped with about 5km to go, I stopped and then walked..then continued running. There was a little blood but all was ok. It was lovely to see my husband waiting at the end.

……and there is always a reminder that there could be a disaster in Wellington. Those tsunami are everywhere.

Last 2 days and a night were in Auckland. We stayed in Kohimarama, near Mission Bay. It had the most beautiful beaches, weather, and food a perfect place for walks as you can walk all the way along the coast to Auckland City Centre.

Then it was time to fly back to the U.K. 😂

A Journey to Houston Marathon 2019 by Ian Marling

Why Am I at the Houston Marathon?

To understand why I would travel down to Houston this weekend we have to turn back the clock a little over 20 years. The year is 1998: I’m leading a pretty ordinary, if extraordinarily active, 11-year old’s life—participating in my first speed skating races, running at a competitive level, riding my first two centuries on back to back days—but otherwise, typical 5th and 6th grade life. Wake up, go to school, play with friends, and so on. Except I had headaches. Not just any headaches, but headaches that would wake me up in the middle of the night with searing pain and accompanying nausea and vomiting. Headaches that tended not to go away or respond to any sort of pain remedies. Every so often I’d just get waylaid by one around 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, and that would pretty much be the story of that day. After a few years of enduring these occasional rude awakenings we sought a formal diagnosis, “Migraines” a neurologist told us. “Classic Migraines.” But over the course of that year, things started to get worse little by little.
Fast forward to January 1999, while walking through my house one night I feel what can only be described as an “explosion” in my head, and I crumple to the floor, completely debilitated by the pain. A few minutes go by before I’m able to gather myself and try to take some Tylenol and ibuprofen and hope things get a little better. I get an appointment for a CT, and for the next week the headache from the “explosion”—though abated—never completely disappears.
CT-scan-Friday had been a rough day in 6th grade. I didn’t get a very interesting part in the class play, and my teacher had given me a hard time about being a bit behind on some schoolwork because of some missed days due to headaches. I distinctly remember looking forward to unwinding that night with some James Bond movies and takeout Chinese food—I just had this CT scan to get out of the way first. My mother takes me to the hospital for the scan, and it goes by like most CT scans do: quickly and quietly. Only afterwards I’m told that we have to go to Children’s Hospital for a follow-up MRI, right away.
We go to the Emergency Room at Children’s for the MRI. This should have been the first bright red flag for me, but at the time, the emergency room is how you got into hospitals. When you crush your pinky finger in a door or hit your foot with a hatchet, you go to the ER and they take care of you. The ER is packed, and we’re initially told the wait is hours. I’m getting hungry, but I’m told that I’m not allowed to eat until after the MRI. Then, only half an hour later, we’re called in for the MRI (hello red flag number two!).
If CT scans are quiet affairs, MRIs are anything but. Especially back then, the experience of having an MRI akin to being put in a torpedo tube that was inside a washing machine full of rocks. The radiologist told me that babies often fell asleep during the scans and offers me some headphones to listen to the radio on. I now know that this is some sort of cruel practical joke they must learn in radiology school. I’m loaded into the torpedo, and the cacophony begins. At some point, probably in the second hour of being in the torpedo tube, I inquire why it was taking so long—I had an appointment with James Bond to keep after all—and my mother tells me that they found a lump in my brain, and they had to scan my entire spine to make sure they found it all. My blood turned cold. I knew that language, just two years earlier doctors found “a lump” in the breast of the mother of one of my grade school friends. She died less than a year later.
So there I was, in the torpedo tube, no James Bond, no Chinese food, and, oh yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. The date is January 22nd, 1999.
The rest of this story unfolds fairly quickly. I’m admitted (obviously), and two days later surgery is performed to remove the tumor. A few days after that a second surgery is performed—apparently, they missed some of it the first time—but don’t worry, I definitely didn’t leave a tip. I’m in the hospital for just 11-days total, and then I was back at home, now living on the pull-out couch on the first floor, because I didn’t have the strength or coordination to get up the stairs to my bedroom on the second floor. So in a year, I had gone from being able to do anything: speedskating races, champion distance runner, able to ride a bike 100-miles in a day, to having to having to regain the stamina to walk across a room.
Later that year, my mother enlists the help of a neighbor a few years older than me to help me get back into shape. He would take me on runs down a path near the neighborhood and try though I might I could never make it to the end of the path. I would fatigue and have to stop right around a mile into the run, every single time, just a half mile from the turn around point. At that time, that mile-and-a-half run was my marathon. The neighbor who my mother enlisted to help me get back into shape by taking me running went on to become a close friend, we ran track in high school together, and he would later go on to marry my sister. The photo below is a picture of me running with that same neighbor, all these years later. “It’s just like running together 20-years ago!” I excitedly offered at the end of our run. “Yeah, except you’re the one who’s in shape now.” He gasped.

Ian training on Christmas Day with his brother in law.


Now my marathon is not just metaphorical: I’m lining up on Sunday to run the Houston Marathon almost exactly 20-years to the day of my surgery. This run will be a victory parade: a celebration of life with each step, each breath forward. It may go great, it may not go according to plan, but it will be a resounding success no matter what—because to even get to this point, to line up fully prepared for a marathon is my victory.


So this Sunday, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, join me in celebrating life. Take a moment to appreciate what you’re doing, take a deep breath and smile—I know I will be when I cross the finish line!

Now 24 hour hours later………….

What a finishing time! 3.11.53

Ian also added on his Facebook today,

“I can’t say enough about how meaningful all of your comments and words of support were all weekend, and especially to help keep a smile on my face throughout my run today. I’d be willing to bet that I was on the podium for amount of time spent smiling during the marathon today.

Thank you all, may you never forget what a force for good your words can be, as they surely were for me this morning.

You were the wind under my wings today.”

……including these guys.

#bethewind

#séelviento

Psychological Skills can help you perform better

Athletes need interventions that improve performance. Finding an intervention that works could involve working with a professional sports scientist or following a self-help package. Recent years has seen a rapid growth in the popularity in self-help interventions. Andy Lane offers guidance on how to use self-help interventions to improve performance.Self-help intervention can successfully manage anxiety, develop interventions to help people manage cravings when following diets and successfully led to runners not only experiencing more pleasant emotions but also performing better.

So how do I develop an effective self-help package?

The question an individual following a self-help intervention should ask her or himself is; “how do I identify where gains can be made”? A training diary can be a very effective way of identifying which variables to target for intervention work. The diary needs to capture important variables that influence performance and be open to the possibility that you are not assessing the right information. make sense of it. When deciding what data to record, you should also consider what you will do with it. If you record time spent training then presumably you will use this information to gauge whether it was useful in helping you achieve your goal? If you believe that running long periods of time, or completing certain distances, will help you achieve your marathon goal, then seeing that you are running for longer is likely to improve your confidence. However, if confidence is also influenced by the relative intensity of each run, and you realise that you are running for longer but at a lower intensity your confidence to be able to run at the high intensity on race day may not necessarily be increased. In the example above, the athlete should reflect on whether distance covered is truly a marker of progress with a suggestion that speed needs to be considered and recorded. The key point here is to have a strategy on how you will analyse data and how this will relate to the relative achievement of your goals.Keeping a training diary could be an intervention itself, particularly for helping manage unwanted emotions. Expressive writing is proposed to help process information better, and help restructure information from these experiences in a way that if such a situation arises next time, then they are better coped to deal with it.

Record how you feel in the diary; e.g.

I have been really lethargic today and just really sluggish. It’s the last day of a few days hard training, and I know I should have toughed it out before the rest day, which made me feel guilty and depressed. I’m also worried that this will affect my performance.

Recording your mood is also helpful, just rate these from 1 = not at all to 5 = very much so. Anxious, Calm, Happy, Sad, Still, Dejected, Energetic, Fatigued and Excited.

By exploring the likely cause of unwanted emotions, you also begin to develop a blueprint that helps you recognisesituations which bring these and therefore provide opportunities through which to choose a different path to act in the future. For example, if speaking to competitors on the start line gets you particularly nervous, or their banter evokes anger which in turn affects your race strategy, then recognising this to be the case might help change your decision on where to warm-up. You could warm-up alone or rather than warming up near your competitors, and if situational factors prevent this, then listening to music via headphone can serve to block out their conversations.From recording in the diary over a period of time you can learn strategies such as Imagery, Positive Self-Talk and If-then plans which I will leave to another time.

For more; e-Mail andylane@winninglane.com

Consultant Sport Psychologists Andy Lane

Website winninglane.com

Sport psychology: train your mind to take control

Endurance performance is mentally tough; the best athletes can push themselves to sustain physical fatigue and remain psychologically positive over long distances and durations. But according to Professor Andy Lane, this doesn’t happen by chance; endurance athletes can train the mind to develop emotional control which will lead to improved performance.

In an article published in Peak Performance, the focus was on preparing for the Marathon des Sables, a six-day event that involves distances of approximately a marathon per day. The event  involves coping with searing heat, extreme foot blisters, huge sand dunes and having to carry your own supplies – not for the faint-hearted.

Research by Professor Lane showed it’s normal to experience intense emotions before competition. On intense emotion is anxiety and rarely do athletes get all of these things right and they should expect to feel anxious to some degree. However, they should try to interpret these feelings to mean that they are excited; sport performance is by its very nature uncertain, and even the most confident athletes still have a degree of anticipation regarding how things will turn out. It is possible to feel anxious but to interpret these feelings in a motivational way as being ready to perform. Anxiety can be a good thing.

Endurance athletes experience a mixture of emotional states during bouts of long, intense exercise. Those who cope successfully tend to feel fatigue and happiness simultaneously, whereas athletes who do not cope very well tend to feel fatigued, depressed and angry at the same time. As vigour and fatigue fluctuate during repeated bouts of hard exercise during an endurance event, athletes should expect to feel intense fatigue and learn strategies to cope.

To enjoy repeated bouts of hard exercise during competition you need to have experienced repeated bouts of fatigue. In the same way you train your body to cope with the demands of training, you also train your mind to think positively about the experience.

How to Develop Emotional Control:

  • Know how emotions change, it can be extremely useful in understanding how behaviour can change. One way to get started is to think back to some of your recent performances and rate how you felt before a few races where you performed well (in relation to your own expectations) and a few races where you performed poorly (again in relation to your own expectations). Once you have a profile associated with successful and unsuccessful performance, a psychological skills programme can be tailored for your specific needs.
  • Imagery is effective because it can be used to replay situations. The emotions experienced during those situations can be changed from dysfunctional to functional. Imagery is a good way to do this as the situation can be replayed and aspects of it can be changed. Imagery to help athletes cope with difficult situations. You should try to anticipate a difficult situation and see yourself coping with it successfully. An important part of this process is to imagine successfully tackling a number of the factors that make the task difficult; never underestimate the difficulty of the task as this can create a false sense of self-confidence.
  • For example, imagine yourself coping through the toughest part of the race, when your body feels exhausted. Imagine yourself coping successfully with this fatigue, feeling anger and depression starting to build up as you sense your physical fitness not being able to match the standard of performance you have set as a goal.
    During imagery sessions you should rehearse the psyche-up strategies that would be used to raise vigour. For ultra-endurance events such as the Marathon des Sables, you should imagine how you will feel at the start of a difficult stage. This could be three days into a multi-day event when you have residual fatigue. Imagine how you talk yourself into feeling ready, downplaying feelings of soreness. Imagine yourself as a runner of the course; focus on each step, on the small details, and go through how attainable each part is when broken down in to simple steps. What this can do is to develop effective coping strategies for successfully dealing with unpleasant emotions experienced in competition.
  • Positive Self Talk can turn negative thoughts to positive thoughts. Think back to those runs when you felt tired. Think of what you said to yourself. Write it down. The next step is to change the negative self-statements into positive self-statements., for example, consider the negative self-statement, ‘My legs have gone. I will have to stop’. This relationship between feeling tired and what to do about these feelings is clearly terminal for performance. We need to change both parts of this self-statement. Rather than saying ‘my legs have gone’ we need to change this to a transient statement such as ‘my legs are tired’. This is more likely to be true in any case. Tiredness tends to come in waves during endurance running and intense feelings of physical tiredness can pass. Develop self-talk scripts to change negative scenarios to positive ones. Use a combination of imagery and self-talk to create situations in which you experience unpleasant emotions, and see yourself deal successfully with these situations, using positive self-talk to control the inner voice in your head that can be negative.

To conclude before an ultra-endurance event, prepare mentally and physically. Expect to feel fatigue and have your own personal strategies to cope with this. Expect also to feel anxious before the event but try to interpret these feelings as excitement.

Source: Sports psychology: train your mind to take control