Mental preparation

You are your own first coach – Create an environment conducive to high performance.

Mental preparation for an event means above all learning to understand and respect your capabilities so as to last till the end. In other words, your personal ambition and your physical goal must be in harmony, otherwise you risk finding yourself quickly in difficulty on the day. A prime example of this is the record number of runners abandoning Ultra events (unrealistic time goals, distance or elevation).

How to better decide your objectives?

Self-knowledge is the path you must follow…
You cannot perform in the long-term if you do not understand your own mind and body. Many high-level athletes perform pre-race rituals to reduce anxiety and stress, but this does not necessarily affect performance. Others follow routines to optimise their potential, working on boosters and mental imagery, or learn to optimise their capabilities in training and on race day through regular relaxation exercises.
Another method is to develop a context which will allow you to set off on the right foot.
Thinking about preparation and training is a good start but it isn’t enough. You need to carefully consider methods to increase performance so as to reinforce the context of success.

1. Have fun!

Over 90% of high-level athletes say that it’s essential to enjoy what you’re doing in order to perform.
You can only enjoy yourself if your goal is realistic. A realistic goal is an ecological goal which suits you and which motivates you every day to push yourself towards it. This goal should not only flatter your ego but also suit your means, and your physical and mental capabilities.
This is the Ecology of Performance.

2. Plan carefully to avoid skipping steps in the process! Respect your physiology

Set yourself deadlines and build your training plan according to your capabilities and to fit in around your timetable.

3. Don’t go too fast, develop your own rhythm

Alternate periods of development and maintenance. Follow the seasons! To prepare for a long race, you need to work on quality and not just focus on distance.

4. Stay MOTIVATED!

Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today?
How often, after a long day at work or when the weather is bad, do you consider putting off your hill session? If the answer is never, then you are well-aligned with your goal.
If that’s not the case, do you know what your motivation pair is?
Is it the thought of punishment and of losing fitness which motivates you, or is it the prospect of reward and the realisation of your goal that push you?
Consider how you function and incorporate this in your thought process. You will then have the mental capacity to envisage your punishment or reward, triggering a state of OPTIMAL motivation.

5. Get yourself with a team!

Take responsibility and be sure to have a skilled team that can help you with your preparation and help you avoid mistakes which could ruin your enjoyment: coach, personal trainer, medical staff.

Laurent BLONDEEL
Coach in mental and physical training
laurent.blondeel@hyfen.fr