Whether you’re tackling your first marathon or looking to dust off your mates in a friendly 5k, these psychological tactics will help you get more out of your muscles.

Dr Mark Bellamy, Harley Street sports psychologist who works with Olympians, gives us his top tips for making sure your race ready.


1. Keep a diary

It might seem strange at the time, but write down all the hard work you’ve done. You’ll be able to look back at it in the future and use it as motivation, especially on the days you’re struggling in training or when you feel like giving up. It’s reassuring to remember why you started and how far you’ve come.


2. Plan it out

Have a plan for the race. Know how fast you want to start, what pace to keep and when to take on fluid and any food.


3. Write down your faults

Create a ‘snag list’ of what you’ll do if things go wrong. That way, if things aren’t going how you’d hoped, whatever you do next you do in the absence of panic.


4. Remember your ‘whys’

Know why you are doing the race and have that clear before you start. When the going gets tough bring that thought to mind and keep it there to stay on track.


5. Movement is key

Remember that how well you move will impact the efficiency of your run as you fatigue, so know what you do well. Repeat three cue points like, for example, keeping your hips high, landing softly or keeping your head balanced.


6. Break it down

Create a pre-performance plan and break the race into bite-sized chunks. Concentrate on important things, like: when you should sign in, clothing drop-off and pick-up points, having enough time to warm up and think about what you’re aiming to do in the race. If things aren’t going to plan then keep it in perspective. A race is a big day in anyone’s life and a bad one can feel terrible, but remember you’ll have plenty of other days.


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