Playing Mind Games that Help You Win, by Dr. Relax of Mind Games: Applied Sport Psychology for Runners

There are not many runners who can honestly say that their running is never affected by mental or psychological factors. Almost everyone who competes or attempts to do their best at some important aspect of life has experienced both mental boosts and hindrances.

Doubts, confidence, courage and fears for example can have a significant impact on how well we perform. The more we understand the complex interrelationship between mind and body the more it becomes clear that in order to perform at our best physically we must properly prepare and use both body and mind.

Research and experience have proven that structured scientific mental training can help us learn to prepare and use our mind to improve our running. A key psychological ingredient needed to consistently run at our best is a winning attitude. In this context attitude is defined as those thoughts, feelings and emotions associated with a specific situation or performance. For example the thoughts and feelings we usually associate with the last three miles of a marathon is, for many of us, an overwhelming desire to get it over with! In general if we have doubts about our ability to cross the finish line within a certain time we have trouble doing so. On the other hand if we have confidence we tend to be much more likely to complete the race successfully.

There is a scientific basis for the commonly accepted axiom that confidence when you race leads to successful finishes. The muscles of the body involuntarily and instantaneously respond to thoughts, feelings and ideas. This phenomena is referred to as Ideomotor Activity. In practical terms what this means is that negative thoughts and emotions tend to have a negative effect on our muscles while positive thoughts tend to have a positive effect. In almost every situation of equal or nearly equal ability and preparation the faster runner is usually the one who maintains the most consistently positive attitude and pattern of thought.

Runners can and should learn to shape their attitude and thought pattern into one of predominantly positive and confident thinking. My next article will tell you how to play positive "mind games" that will begin to shape your thoughts and emotions and help you create and maintain a more dynamic and effective winning attitude.

Dr. Relax is Gary A. Beale, Ph.D. Visit his site for runners at:
Mind Games: Applied Sport Psychology for Runners