The most important thing in the mental race is confidence. Building confidence for races comes from positivity. Runners need positive self-image and positive thoughts about workouts, teammates, coaches, family, and friends. Everyone has doubts and negative thoughts. It is, however, what you choose to do with those thoughts that matters. I would never tell athletes that a workout was easy. The term easy was not used in our program. Runners need to be proud of themselves and build confidence for races that comes from the knowledge of completing something difficult and doing it well, despite how hard it was.
All of us have a little, critical version of ourselves, sitting on our shoulders during races. This little self tells us we are going too fast. It challenges our sanity. It demands that we slow down. It ridicules us for thinking we can race at such a pace. The voice is negative and demeaning and critical. Now here is the key: Do not ignore that voice. Instead, have an answer ready. The secret is to respond with positive facts, such as, “I have done the workouts to be able to go this fast . . . I have trained for this goal . . . I have prepared for this challenge, for this race, for these competitors.” Make sure you have an answer that emphasizes positive and fact-based responses to dismantle that negative voice.
For more on the mental aspects of racing and how to build confidence for races, see Chapter 5 of Coach, Run, Win, which includes some proven techniques for implementing the approach described above.