Why it's Beneficial to Work on Your Mental Game Even When You're Not Injured
If you’ve been on the sidelines from running before because of an injury, then you’ve probably experienced a taste of the mental game that can pose a challenge while away from your sport. Whether you’ve spent more time than you would like trying to navigate thoughts and feels around the food you eat, the way your body looks, or how productive you feel by the end of the day, chances are you’ve dipped your toe into the mental game – and perhaps it stuck around longer than you wanted.
If you’re like most runners, you can’t wait until you’re back in your running shoes, because then everything will be normal and okay again. Afterall, that’s proven to be the case time and time again.
But part of your passionate commitment to running can mean an inevitable ache, pain, or injury somewhere along the road when your body gets tired and burned out. And sometimes you find yourself in that frustrating on-again off-again injury cycle… which sucks, right?
What if you could stop that type of routine in its tracks and opt for one that is more stable instead? I’m talking about the kind of routine that includes the majority of your days running injury-free rather than constantly worrying about when the next injury will take you out again… what would that be like?
Sounds delightful, right?
The truth is, you CAN have this and it has a better chance of becoming your reality when you commit to supporting the mental game consistently – injured or not.
Doing the work to become a champion at knowing your mind from the inside out and how to support it will help you to navigate the emotional roller coasters and thought tornados quickly and efficiently… so that you can spend more of your time feeling strong, powerful, and confident – focusing on a running routine that “clicks” with your body and its needs too.
Learning how to do this type of mental game work levels up your emotional intelligence and BONUS – it has powerful effects on your body’s ability to generate force, build stamina, reduce risk of injury, and keep getting those PRs on your favorite race days.
Think this is a little far-fetched and woo-woo? I hear you. I was once in your shoes too. Keep reading.
Research shows that the more “positive” emotional states correlate with higher force production (aka better performance) than force production associated with “negative” emotional states.
Now – I know you’re probably a champion at slapping on your game face, powering through, and sustaining a positive-vibes only approach here. But even when your mind tries to distract you from what’s REALLY happening inside, your body knows the truth.
Which means that when you’re trying to run off all of the feels that come from that uncomfortable conversation you’re waiting to have with your partner, boss, or friend, your mind can convince you all it wants that you are a happy, never-angry person. And the whole time, your body's working overtime to handle that pent up tension in your muscles… which reduces your power and stamina and also increases your risk of injury.
So in light of Mental Health Awareness month and with eyes focused on your future races and stable running routine, I have a loving invitation for you.
If you’re not already doing work to become a champion at the mental game and putting these tools into practice consistently, then now is the time to start! Don’t wait until another injury stops you in your tracks. Your future self will be deeply grateful.
By: Fast Bananas expert, Dr. Jen Davis PT, DPT, Mindset Coach
You can find more ways to work on your mental health through our resources on RUNsource!
Looking for support from a running-loving human who also happens to be a sports injury and healthy mindset coach? Book your complimentary discovery call with Dr. Jen here! You can also check out Dr. Jen's latest Mentally Resilient Athlete Sprint course here!