Keen to go the distance?
Whether you’re tackling a marathon or heading on a hike, when it comes to nailing long-distance exercise, the mental side of things is half the battle.
How do you motivate yourself to keep going? How can you quiet the voice inside your head that tells you to give up and just go to the pub?
Sports psychologist and author of The Ten Pillars Of Success, Dr Josephine Perry, shares her expert tips for keeping your head in the game…
Care about your goal
Make sure your goal is your own choice and one that you are really passionate and enthusiastic about.
You need to feel your tummy lurch with excitement when you think about it if you are to give it all the mental and physical effort it will require to succeed.
Get a community
Find your tribe. We stick with challenges much better when we have a sense of belonging to others doing similar things.
Joining a club, signing up to a forum, making plans with those training at the same time will all give you the push you need during the tough times and inspire you to train hard.
Knowing people are supporting you during the challenge will be invaluable to your motivation.
Focus on skills
Identify the main skills you will need to achieve your goal and track how you are mastering them. For a long-distance swim this might include swimming in cold water, breathing to both sides, swimming when tired or eating on the move.
Create a list, add the date every time you master that skill and you’ll soon have a brilliant reminder of just how well you are doing.
Write yourself two mantras. One is a physical instruction of how to perform at your best, something to say to improve form or technique if you were looking down from above. The other is motivational, reminding yourself why you are going the distance. Keep them short, positive and memorable.
Research has found that smiling reduces the perception of effort you feel you need to keeping going.
Smiling also increases positive thoughts, relaxes your emotional state and in some sports improves performance.
When others smile back that also gives us a boost, so remember, grinning is winning!