Technology is moving at an outrageously quick pace; Canada is welcoming the use of technology to enhance the lives of Canadians. As you read this, Amazon is testing the use of drones to deliver packages right in our backyard of British Columbia. And of course, technology has expanded into running.
We have more gadgets than ever available to monitor and enhance running, such as heart rate monitors, GPS watches and increasingly sophisticated technology in shoes. Gadgets can give runners important feedback, but it is also important that we interpret this feedback accurately. How we interpret the physiological responses, for example heart rate, that gadgets measure, is related to the third factor that can increase one’s belief in his or her abilities: physiological responses.
Our body will react to the situation that we put it in, and how we interpret these reactions or physiological responses can hinder or help confidence. For example, before a 5-K race it is normal to be nervous, your heart rate increases and you might even notice that you’re sweating more. If your watch has a heart rate monitor, the numbers can tell you exactly how much higher your heart rate is than normal. The standard reaction for nervousness usually involves questioning yourself. You may even find yourself asking why you’re doing this run, if you’re really ready to do this run and what happens if you don’t reach your goals. It’s quite common to label your nervousness as dread or a sign that you’re not quite prepared. So how can you change your reaction, and generate a positive vibe? The mentally strong runner will label nervousness as excitement and thrive off of the excitement.
Here’s the thing: Mental strength takes time and effort to develop and with mental strength will come confidence. The challenge for runners is to interpret their own physiological responses in a positive manner. For example, if you look down at your heart rate monitor in the middle of a run and your heart rate is in a safe range, but higher than you want it to be, interpret this feedback as showing that you’re working hard and pushing yourself and thrive off of it instead of being fearful and slowing down. You can’t always control your heart rate or your nerves but you can always control how you react to it. With time and hard work you can change your default reaction to excitement!
Jennifer is a former gymnast turned sprinter turned middle distance runner. She recently completed a Master’s in Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa where she studied sport psychology. She holds a Bachelor Degree in psychology from the University of Western Ontario where she was captain of the Track and Field team. She continued her running career with the Gee Gees and is the 2012 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Champion in the 1000m. She is passionate about bringing athletes to a new level of performance through mental skills training. Jennifer believes that enhancing mental performance is about sharpening these mental skills to help athletes constantly challenge themselves to be better.
Connect with Jennifer on Twitter, @jen_perrault, or visit her website!