NRC

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BE A MENTALLY
TOUGHER RUNNER

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HAVING A STRONG MIND COULD HELP YOU REACH THE FINISH LINE.
If you're looking for an edge in your next race, look no further than your own head. Sure, having a strong body is important; however, at a certain point, you may not be able to control how far or how fast you can run. But you can always control how you mentally approach those miles. Use this four-step process, developed by the Navy SEALs and specially adapted for runners by a member of the Nike Performance Council, to become a mentally tougher runner. Once you get your mind in the game, it'll be easier to push your pace, go the distance or simply get through all of those really challenging training sessions. Promise.

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1
SET A GOAL.

And stick with it. Make yourself accountable by writing it down, posting it everywhere and telling your friends. Ask a friend to reach the goal with you, and you add an extra mental push of not wanting to let your teammate down as well.

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2
VISUALIZE REACHING THAT GOAL.

Practice visualizing yourself completing whatever task it is that you're planning to complete. But don't get so focused on the end goal. Break a big goal, like running a sub-3:40 marathon, up into smaller goals, so that you create a path of less daunting, achievable moments for yourself along the way, maybe every few miles.

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3
PRACTICE POSITIVE SELF TALK.

Look at yourself in the mirror and say, "You can do this." It may feel really cheesy at first, but you'll get used to it. Think back to a moment when you were at your best—what did that feel like? And then remember those moments when things get tough during a race or run. The second you start to feel negative, reconnect with that greatness and talk yourself up again. Singing songs could also help distract you from any temporary discomfort you're experiencing.

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4
CONTROL YOUR STRESS.

Literally. Use your breathing to slow your heart rate and calm everything down when things get tough and your adrenaline starts pumping: Inhale for 4 seconds, and then exhale for 4 seconds. Repeat for 4 minutes.

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Just remember, when your body starts telling you that you're done, you're probably only about 40 percent of the way there. If the most powerful part of your body, your brain, hasn't kicked in yet, then you have so much more left in your tank than you realize.