“How did you train your mind to tackle 24 hours on a treadmill?”
This is the question I get asked more often about my 24 hour treadmill stint. And it's the right question to hard as that run was 99% mental and 1% physical.
I feel I was lucky to recognise this disproportion about the run and be very intentional with my mental preparation, to which I dedicated more time than my physical training. If for no other reasons, while running all the time is physically and practically impossible, the opposite is true for thinking about running!
What worked well for me was becoming 100% crystal clear on my WHY, WHAT and HOW. And be comfortable with it, removing choices and options to bail out.
I am a strong believer and advocate of Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” movement. If you don’t know him I encourage you to read his books or simply watch his TED Talk.
Essentially he describes a pattern adopted by successful leaders and companies, which he calls the golden circle. These successful people and companies, think, act and communicate from the inside of the circle to the outside, which is the complete opposite of everyone else. They start from the reason they get up in the morning or their company exists (the WHY), not from the process (the HOW) or their product (the WHAT). In other words they start from a purpose, not from the product.
I believe this applies to many other aspects of life, including endurance running. Particularly for something out there like running on the spot for 24 hours!
Everyone has different ways to find their clarity. Some people love their spreadsheets and data, others draw their path from start to finish with the obstacle half way to find the way around it.
I visualise things and love dot lists. And to marry the two things I create mind maps.
My mind map for the 24 hours challenge evolved over 4 months. I printed it and hung it up on my bathroom window so I could see it daily and add leaves or improve points continuously.
By the end, the map was so clear in my head I could go back to it on my daily decisions and, most importantly, during the race.
In the lowest moments, when I was hurting mentally and physically, I found comfort in knowing it was all part of a big plan. “It’s all-right” I kept saying to myself “Here are the reasons WHY you are doing this.. and here is WHAT you are actually doing.. and here is the HOW”
Admittedly, this is the first time I formalise my WHY/WHAT/HOW for a running race but I am hopeful I can find a structure and a set of "rules" which I can use for other challenges.
Like most runners I suffer of FOMO every weekend when I see posts about races. It would be great to use this mind map as an independent judge on the races I should take on and those I should miss.
Check out a great free tool Xmind - happy mind mapping everyone!