Creating a mental training programme

Should you include yoga in your training?

Many studies have shown that the mind's influence on the body's performance is huge. Mental training should form part of any runner's training programme but what does this training look like and how should you carry it out?

You should treat your mental  training as you do your physical training. If you look at how you structure your physical training sessions you will probably work on:
  • Progressing your training and recovery over a long period of time
  • Gradually progressing the volume and intensity
  • Keeping training consistent and regular
  • Making the training specific to your target or goal
  • Factoring in periods of recovery or rest

You can keep all of these rules for your mental training. You need to get into a regular habit  because it won't be effective if you only work on it in short bursts. Just as a long lay-off means loss of physical fitness, you will lose some of the benefits of mental training if you neglect it for long periods of time.

The  mental sessions that you could include in your training programme could be aimed at:

You should assess your strengths and weaknesses on all of the above at the start of your programme. Once this has been done you should look at the list and decide what is most important to you. It may be that you have rated yourself as 'weak' when it comes to setting goals but you may be happy with your happy-go-lucky approach but be less happy with your ability to deal with your muscles burning when you run uphill and so you decide to work on strategies to block out pain rather than spending time on setting yourself goals.

The time you spend on your mental training will depend on the time you have available for your running but a 20 - 30 minute session a couple of times a week should make a big difference to your mental approach and your performances. This may involve you sitting quietly to make notes and write down your thoughts, monitoring options and resolutions or it could be time for focussed recovery and relaxation, yoga or meditation.