With the Birmingham Great Run 10k looming just around the corner, we chatted to our Sport Psychology Lead about how best to prepare for the challenge.
Matt Thompson has been a Performance Psychologist at the University of Birmingham for nearly 4 years, and so who better to ask about keeping on track during training?! Whether you’re an experienced runner or you’re trying out your first race, self-belief and motivation can be one of the most debilitating factors when building up to race day. Matt poses three questions which will keep your eyes on the prize even during the ‘it’s cold outside, I want to stay in bed and eat chocolate’ times.
Why am I doing this?!
‘The answer to this question can be a major source of motivation. Be honest with yourself – this has to be a genuine reason that means something to you. Whether you are doing the Birmingham 10k because you want to be that healthier version of you, or because you’re trying to raise funds for a charity that is close to your heart, or because you are desperate to get that sense of achievement from beating your personal best – write this down and put it somewhere you will see it when you need that extra motivation boost. You could even print out a Birmingham 10K poster and put it on the back of your door! On those wet and miserable mornings or cold dark evenings asking yourself this question. Reminding yourself of the answer can provide the motivation you need to get you out pounding the pavements!’
How am I going to do this?
‘You need to work back from your end goal and plan how you’re going to achieve it. Are you going to run so many times a week? What days work best for you? What times work best for you? First of all – get advice regarding your programme. Speak to a specialist or use one of many great guides online. Secondly, you MUST be honest with yourself here. I often tell myself ‘this week I will get up earlier and run at 6am three times a week’. I have literally never been able to complete that challenge! I know that mornings are not the best option for me. So I have to be honest with myself and plan to run at other times. Make a plan that you honestly think will work for YOU, then go for it!’
What could stop me from doing this?
‘Preparation is key! There will be barriers. For each of us these will be unique: fitting training around a busy lifestyle, managing an old injury, a love of chilling on the sofa and binge-watching the latest box-set! Think about what could possibly stop you from achieving your goals and then prepare how you can reduce the chances of that negative scenario happening, or deal with it if it does. For example, if you have tried running in the past but stopped because of shin pain, then that could be a possible obstacle that could stop you from training and achieving your goal. In that scenario there is lots you could do to influence that: get a gait analysis done at your local running store and make sure you get good footwear that’s right for you; plan your training so you build your programme up gradually; get a foam roller to help relieve any tension and see a physiotherapist or other specialist for advice. Preparing for what could stop you achieving your goals makes it less likely that they will.’
Oh, and one more thing!
‘Remember you are human! You will skip a session or make poor decisions every now and then. That is OK. Try not to go overboard when you do and then get up, and go again. Good luck and enjoy!’