Sports psychology webchat with Victor Thompson

Join us next Friday 21 March at 1pm for a webchat with ASICS sports psychologist Victor Thompson. 

Victor will be on hand to answer all your questions relating to the psychological side to training. So if you suffer from race day nerves, want advice on keeping motivated, struggle with injury setbacks or want mental strategies for race day, Victor’s your man.

Post your questions below to join in.

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Comments

  • I've had some really tough LSR it normally starts at the 14/15 mile mark when I start hurting, I've managed to push on to mile 21 but it really hurt!!. I've read that a marathon doesn't start till mile 20 which would be fine as I'm sure I can push on. My worry is that my marathon will start at mile 15 (as in training) & Is maybe now in my head I will really struggle to finish. Thanks in advance
  • Hi Victor, as an experienced runner I still get negative thoughts regarding some of my races. What kind of thought process do I need to practice before / during the marathon that might help distract?

    Thanks

  • Dear Victor.

    If psychology has any significant benefit for marathon runners then would you expect that if a leading Kenyan were to employ your services that he would significantly reduce the world record?
  • Hi Victor,

    How best would you break up a marathon?

    I felt rather overwhelmed in the start pen of my first marathon last year and thought break Paris into chunks of; 2,7,8,5&4.2 miles onto my Garmin and see if that helps. Is this a good idea? What would you do? Any thoughts on the matter would be really appreciated, thank you.

  • Hi victor, 

    Am running london (hopefully) last year i had to defer due to picking up an injury with 3 weeks to go. Am really struggling mentally, ive trained really hard, but every tiny niggle im thinking the worse or if i manage to even get to london i think im going to get ill the night before.

    I'm desperate to get to the start & finish but just feel on the edge! 

    Any tips to calm myself down!! 

    Thank you for any advice! 

    Katy

  • Hi Victor

    I struggle with a bit of "social anxiety" around running which I don't get around the other sports I do (swimming and gym work).  I worry unduly about what other people will think of me when I'm out running in the street - that they will think I'm rubbish and laugh at me.  As a result, I tend to go out a bit panicky and run too fast.  Do you have any tips for strategies that can help me not to care so much and slow down more at the start?  I also find that these kinds of thoughts tend to put me off going out at all - I can easily talk myself out of a run using all kinds of excuses just to avoid the anxiety.

    Any help would be appreciated as it's really annoying!

    Thanks

  • Hi Victor

    A few years ago I trained like a mad thing, achieved some really good times (for me) and then, somewhat predictably, got injured. Then I got depressed because I was injured and ended up not running for nearly 2 years. All that is behind me and I now train sensibly, but I find that every time I start to train more intensely it's as if my body and mind conspire to stop me and I'm plagued by all sorts of aches, pains and negative thoughts. In the last half marathon I ran, I nearly pulled out at about 9 miles with all this going on. Any tips on how to overcome this - I know it's all in my head?!

    Thanks

  • Hello Victor,

    I recently ran my first Half-Marathon and was delighted with my time but due to my inexperience, the following hours and days have been really tough with my legs feeling so tight!

    I am nearly there on recovery but I was wondering if you could advise on what are the best practices after a run like this to ensure recovery is speedy!?

    Thank you, Oli.

  • Hi Victor,

    I am currently training for London Marathon and have had a number of injuries leading up to race day.  I am worried about the mental battle faced when running the marathon and how to deal with them as I have not run over 16 miles so do not know what to expect mentally from the remaining 10 miles.

     Any tricks or tips to help would be most appreciated?

    Many thanks,

    Sarah

  • Hello Victor,

    any tips on coping with the post-race blues?  If I don't have something over the horizon after completing a big race then I tend to slump (motivationally), but there isn't always something race wise I can sign up to.  I hope that makes some kind of sense as a question.

  • Hi Victor,

    I'm running my first marathon in Brighton in 2 weeks and find that once I hit mile 15 I start feeling quite negative and worn out. Any advice on how to push through those negative moments? Also I recently found out that Brighton is a headphone free race when music has been an essential part of my training - any ways I can try and make a transition to music free running?

    Thank you

  • Hi Victor,

    I have my marathon next Sunday, 30th. My training was going really well until a few weeks ago. I've had a niggle which I've been managing but it meant that I missed my final long run and had to alter my training to help it recover in time. I know I have still doing enough (I've done two 21 milers and was running 5 x days a week for 16 weeks). But i'm really struggling with anxiety and worrying a lot and feeling very emotional about the race. I've never trained this hard and I'm worried it wont pay off or I'll be disappointed with myself. (this is my second marathon). DO you have any tips for mental preparation I can do between now and next week to make me feel more positive about it? 

  • Annie RW
    Thanks for your question. This is common for many of us before a big event, that niggles develop and/or we miss what we think are key sessions. It sounds like you have done most sessions, prepared well, so it is likely that you are in good shape for a good performance. While we follow programmes there is little evidence that some sessions are key to performance on the day. That's why all programmes are different. Focus on what you can do to be ready, not what you should have or could have done - especially if this may not really lead to a better performance. You are well prepared. Remind yourself of how this is so. 
    Victor
    Annie RW wrote (see)

    Hi Victor,

    I have my marathon next Sunday, 30th. My training was going really well until a few weeks ago. I've had a niggle which I've been managing but it meant that I missed my final long run and had to alter my training to help it recover in time. I know I have still doing enough (I've done two 21 milers and was running 5 x days a week for 16 weeks). But i'm really struggling with anxiety and worrying a lot and feeling very emotional about the race. I've never trained this hard and I'm worried it wont pay off or I'll be disappointed with myself. (this is my second marathon). DO you have any tips for mental preparation I can do between now and next week to make me feel more positive about it? 

     

  • Lauren Sullivan 2
    How good will it feel to persist, to push through this? Who would inspire you? Who would doubt you and you can prove them wrong? 
    Alternatively, break it down to a simple "I'm doing this" "This is temporary" or similar type of mantra.
    Victor
    lauren sullivan 2 wrote (see)

    Hi Victor,

    I'm running my first marathon in Brighton in 2 weeks and find that once I hit mile 15 I start feeling quite negative and worn out. Any advice on how to push through those negative moments? Also I recently found out that Brighton is a headphone free race when music has been an essential part of my training - any ways I can try and make a transition to music free running?

    Thank you

     

  • FerrousFerret 
    (Great name!) Post race blues are common, predict and plan for them. How will you take pride in going out there to test yourself in an event, to know you did your best on the day, that you will learn something? Will you go out an celebrate, meet up with friends a bit afterwards, give yourself time for some TLC activities, to recover, then choose to focus on your next challenge? Give your brain and body time to recover, to reset.
    Victor
    FerrousFerret wrote (see)

    Hello Victor,

    any tips on coping with the post-race blues?  If I don't have something over the horizon after completing a big race then I tend to slump (motivationally), but there isn't always something race wise I can sign up to.  I hope that makes some kind of sense as a question.

     

  • Dear wiggly worm 
    Phantom pains or other strange sensations are rather common in the lead up to an event as we get more stressed about our performance. If you have had an experience of some disaster or injury in an event, then there are likely to be reminders of this, when you are in a similar situation. The triggers for these reminders can be what you see, what you hear, what you taste (that gel, sports drink...), smell, feel physically (e.g. level of exertion) - anything really. Most people think that the symptoms come out of the blue, but in reality there is something in the situation that triggers them (when they are psychologically based, rather than an actual physical injury). Recognise the psychologically generated symptoms as temporary reminders, to be worked through, ignored, conquered...
    Victor
    wiggly worm wrote (see)

    Hi Victor

    A few years ago I trained like a mad thing, achieved some really good times (for me) and then, somewhat predictably, got injured. Then I got depressed because I was injured and ended up not running for nearly 2 years. All that is behind me and I now train sensibly, but I find that every time I start to train more intensely it's as if my body and mind conspire to stop me and I'm plagued by all sorts of aches, pains and negative thoughts. In the last half marathon I ran, I nearly pulled out at about 9 miles with all this going on. Any tips on how to overcome this - I know it's all in my head?!

    Thanks

     

  • Coco-Cat 
    Few if any people out there are giving a second thought about you when they see you. They are in their own world of thoughts.
    You could experiment with imagining that you are running in your own bubble, one that seals you in, you can let in what you want, keep in it what you want - good thoughts, encouragement, encouragement to keep chilled and relaxed, thoughts and vibes from others don't get in, so anyone who is (unlikely) thinking about you can't impact on you.
    Try it
    Victor
    Coco-Cat wrote (see)

    Hi Victor

    I struggle with a bit of "social anxiety" around running which I don't get around the other sports I do (swimming and gym work).  I worry unduly about what other people will think of me when I'm out running in the street - that they will think I'm rubbish and laugh at me.  As a result, I tend to go out a bit panicky and run too fast.  Do you have any tips for strategies that can help me not to care so much and slow down more at the start?  I also find that these kinds of thoughts tend to put me off going out at all - I can easily talk myself out of a run using all kinds of excuses just to avoid the anxiety.

    Any help would be appreciated as it's really annoying!

    Thanks

     

  • Thanks Victor - I'll give that a go.

  • Dear Katy1
    Prerace nerves are normal. Accept them. Be well prepared - what you will eat, drink, pack, go to bed, get up, get to the venue... Remind yourself of why you are doing the event - a time, to finish, to see what happens? Think of all your preparation, how you have relevant sessions in the bag (or in your body) ready to draw on on the day. What will your strategy be for the event, how will you manage it. Then, watch some tv, read a mag, take it easy the night before, knowing that you are ready for the event.
    (Also look at my answer to Annie RW)

     Victor

     

    Katy1 wrote (see)

    Hi victor, 

    Am running london (hopefully) last year i had to defer due to picking up an injury with 3 weeks to go. Am really struggling mentally, ive trained really hard, but every tiny niggle im thinking the worse or if i manage to even get to london i think im going to get ill the night before.

    I'm desperate to get to the start & finish but just feel on the edge! 

    Any tips to calm myself down!! 

    Thank you for any advice! 

    Katy

     

  • Dear orapidrun 
    Yes, it is good to break it into chunks. The first should be to keep you at a not-too-fast-so-you-blow-your-race pace. Choose set distances and plumb these into a gps, or times with a watch alarm, or landmarks. It can be good to have a back up plan, perhaps with the times and plan written on your hand or a piece of paper in case your device breaks, falls off...
    A friend of mine trained for an Ironman all by heart rate, then on race day before the gun went off, his watch snapped off his wrist and sunk to the bottom of the lake. He had no plan B!
    Victor
    orapidrun wrote (see)

    Hi Victor,

    How best would you break up a marathon?

    I felt rather overwhelmed in the start pen of my first marathon last year and thought break Paris into chunks of; 2,7,8,5&4.2 miles onto my Garmin and see if that helps. Is this a good idea? What would you do? Any thoughts on the matter would be really appreciated, thank you.

     

  • Dear kittenkat 
    Unless you are a genetic freak, you are unlikely to be winning top races. 
    So, can you adjust your goal to getting PBs, to testing yourself, to doing more interesting races (if you won't go for age group comparisons?)?
    Or, maybe you aren't yet the best runner that you could be - consider a coach, functional strength, mobility, nutrition, psychology... - and this could become your goal.
    Alternatively, other sports are available where performance is based less on age - bowls, crazy golf...!
    Victor
    kittenkat wrote (see)

    Ok, a serious question.

    Sport was always my defining 'thing' of choice. I have been good at it in several sports ('good' being a relative term, meaning county level really. So semi shit if you're talking elite and ok if you're talking sub elite) over 4 decades and a few sports.

    Irrespective of what I may or may not be good in my profession, I've always got a kick out of competing in sport (my hobby) more in terms of 'buzz' and maybe a projected view of how I would wish to see myself.

    Now in my 40's I'm getting beaten in my latest competitive ventures by 20 somethings. Of course I am! How do I grow older gracefully and not be really pissed off that I can't make the top 3 women in local races? Please don't tell me to move to age cat wins and enjoy that.

    If I'm a lost cause, please find me a sport that I can still win aged 43 and getting older.

    Thanks,

    Kate.

     

  • Dear Lord Didsbury 
    Maybe. However, if he is a leading Kenyan runner, then he is already managing his mind in a way that allows him to run great performances. Perhaps is confidence gets dented, his concentration wavers to his detriment, he has destructive relationships with fellow runners, he gets too stressed before competitions to eat adequately... So, maybe a sports psychologist could help and that this would be reflected in his enjoyment and performance.
    Victor
    Lord Didsbury wrote (see)
    Dear Victor.
    If psychology has any significant benefit for marathon runners then would you expect that if a leading Kenyan were to employ your services that he would significantly reduce the world record?

     

  • Dear knight rider 
    Distracting yourself from thoughts is rarely the best solution, as it can have a temporary impact, then they come back, and it takes effort.
    What if you viewed this thought as interesting, bonkers, unhelpful, impotent? Rather than as distressing, limiting, something to avoid?
    What thoughts arise? How could you rebuff it, see the flaws in it, dismiss it as one bonkers version of what could be true in some universe, but unlikely to be informative or useful to you right now. What else could you think that would be better right now?
    I hope that helps.
    Victor
    knight rider wrote (see)

    Hi Victor, as an experienced runner I still get negative thoughts regarding some of my races. What kind of thought process do I need to practice before / during the marathon that might help distract?

    Thanks

     

  • Dear maunge
    The marathon challenges start when you first complete you entry form, from then on you have challenges. On the day, the challenges come (and many go), with more coming towards the end in terms of fatigue, depleted energy stores, negative thoughts, concentration lapses... Consider how you have dealt with challenges in training, when have these developed, why, how can you better deal with these in training so you are better prepared on marathon day.
    Consider energy intake, fluid, pacing, helpful thinking (e.g. well done, keep this up, this is temporary, it will be over before I know it, today is a special test...). Consider 'taking' energy from the supporters.
    Victor
    maunge wrote (see)
    I've had some really tough LSR it normally starts at the 14/15 mile mark when I start hurting, I've managed to push on to mile 21 but it really hurt!!. I've read that a marathon doesn't start till mile 20 which would be fine as I'm sure I can push on. My worry is that my marathon will start at mile 15 (as in training) & Is maybe now in my head I will really struggle to finish. Thanks in advance

     

  • Thanks everyone for your questions. I hope that my answers give you something to think about and try out. Best wishes for your marathon and other running challenges.

    Victor

    www.sportspsychologist.com 

  • Thanks for your answer Dr Victor

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