It's not just your body that needs to be ready for the big day – your mind must also be prepared. Professor Greg Whyte is on hand to provide you with his expert motivational tips
We all have a desire to achieve what we might see as the impossible. You may have watched the incredible running feats of others, wondering if you could do the same. And, yes, you can. Everyone has the ability to deliver success in all of life’s challenges, such as your chosen Great Run.
Having helped the likes of David Walliams, John Bishop and Davina McCall to reach the finish line of their own particular endurance challenges for Comic Relief and Sport Relief, I believe that we can all achieve extraordinary things.
Nothing good comes easy, but committing to working hard to achieve your running goal is the first and most important step on your own, unique road to success. How you tackle it from here on in can determine not only the outcome, but how much you enjoy the process.
There will be many barriers to overcome along the way, but here are my top tips to ensure your mind is as prepared as your body for what lies ahead. Good luck — and always remember my most important mantra: Anything is Possible.
TELL EVERYONE WHAT YOU ARE DOING
Once you’ve committed to your run, shout it from the rooftops. Tell friends, family and colleagues what you are planning to achieve. By doing so, you will not only garner support, but unwittingly enhance your self-confidence and motivation, ultimately enhancing your performance.
Positive friends and family members can be a huge boost. There’s nothing quite like somebody heaping praise on you for taking on a challenge or asking how your training is coming along. Relish that.
BUILD YOUR SELF-BELIEF
You are very unlikely to enter a run with the absolute belief that you will be successful. Whether your goal is to complete the distance, run a particular time or to win, it is only natural to possess some doubt.
But see this as a positive thing – if success was a foregone conclusion it wouldn’t be worth achieving! Unlike motivation, which can often be high when you start out, belief in your capabilities builds more progressively.
Your training and preparation will result in increased confidence. And you will find your self-belief grows as the certainty of success becomes more realistic.
DON’T FEAR FAILURE
If your goal is to run an event and you had never run before, a fear of failure is likely to have outweighed your desire to get going when you started.
Can you really make it? The solution is to set short and medium-term goals, not to be freaked out by the prospect of thinking about running 10K, or 13.1 miles. It all then seems more manageable.
Positive affirmation in this way will increase your motivation and, as a result, your chances of making the distance.
A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST
On the journey to the start line there will be times when you feel you can’t go on because of physical or psychological fatigue. With psychological tiredness, boredom is often to blame.
Repetition of the same activity – running mile after mile – every day can take its toll.
Rather than taking time off and losing valuable training time, simply make small changes that will prove inspirational. Change your routes or your training terrain, run alone or with friends. Just don’t beat yourself up by rigidly continuing with your usual runs if they are causing excessive boredom – it’s a sure route to negative emotions.
Make sure that you celebrate reaching each mini milestone and medium-term goal by rewarding yourself. It can help to write down your rewards beside your goals in a training diary.
‘When I can run a certain distance, I will treat myself to’…whatever it is, make sure the reward means something special to you. Allowing someone else to judge whether or not you have achieved your goals can remove the temptation to cheat and allows you to have a little prize-giving ceremony in your own living room.
A word of caution: it’s very important that you don’t reward yourself until you have achieved your mini goal. Rewarding only success is much more meaningful and empowering than constantly patting yourself on the back.