4 New Year, New You Health, fitness & beauty Mind over matter

Find out what athletes can teach us about mental endurance — and take your fitness to the next level. Words: Rhonda Carrier


hose who run marathons, compete in triathlons and take part in other physical challenges aren’t just

pushing their bodies to their limits. By exercising the power of mind over matter, they’re drawing on, but also building, mental strength. Here’s what athletes can teach us about getting through periods of discomfort, stress and uncertainty.

Have a sense of purpose Many endurance athletes are all too familiar with ‘the wall’ — that point when motivation wavers in the face of fatigue. Research in exercise science has shown that the brain continuously weighs up how hard something feels against our desire to do it and makes us slow down or stop when the two are out of kilter. Te answer is to have another, more

personal reason to carry on — a sense of purpose. Run in memory of loved ones who have died, do it to make your children proud or run to raise money for a charity you’re passionate about.

Focus on process rather than goal After the initial thrill of setting oneself a new challenge, it’s common to feel discouraged in the face of the effort needed. Endurance athletes tend to separate the goal into different parts

and concentrate their efforts on one at a time. As professional ultrarunner Coree Woltering has it: “I break things down to 10 seconds at a time.”

Cultivate realism, patience and kind self-talk Unrealistic expectations quickly lead to dissatisfaction, disappointment and even panic. Endurance athletes acknowledge the difficulties to come, which also has the benefit of leaving them open to performance-boosting pleasant surprises. Te best athletes also keep their

spirits up by replacing negative thoughts and dark moods with a kind attitude towards themselves, and by taking positive action when the inevitable low points occur. Olympic athlete and half-marathon record- holder Ryan Hall calls it ‘running the mile you’re in’.

Pace yourself Veteran endurance athletes know how crucial it is to restrain yourself — even when you’re doing well. Novices often start moving faster if they feel good early in a race, and overextend themselves. Running coach, writer and podcast host Mario Fraioli says: “A successful runner is the person who slows down the least. You’ve got to chip away slowly.”

Promotional Content • Saturday 9th January 2021 2021 CHARITY CHALLENGES

LONDON MARATHON Last year, the renowned run was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, eventually going ahead in October; entrants took part remotely, supported by a tracking app. It’s not yet known what will happen this year, but the plan at the moment is for the race to take place in October. The Stroke Association charity is still open to entrants, who will need to pledge to raise £2,000. The Stroke Association helps people rebuild their lives after a stroke, funds critical research and campaigns for those affected by stroke.

COUNTRY WALKS Throughout the year, the NSPCC holds challenges across the country, ranging in distance from 25km to 106km; you can commit to different fundraising targets as well. And while you can run if you wish, walking is the most popular choice. There are challenges in the Lake District in June, in the Peak District and in Yorkshire in July and along the Sussex coast in September. The NSPCC is the UK’s leading children’s charity, working to prevent abuse and help those affected to recover.

DIGITAL FUNDRAISING Mental health charity Mind has a whole host of online ideas to raise some money — simply take your pick. It suggests a virtual pub quiz, murder mystery, dance party or even a digital gig or book club, all of which require attendees to donate for entrance.


the sport: elite-level kit that does justice

SOAR Running — engineered running wear S

Founded in London in 2015 by menswear designer Tim Soar, SOAR Running is making fast strides at the forefront of running apparel

OAR Running is providing runners with what

it believes

has long been missing from to the dedication, passion

and performance goals of committed amateur runners. Every item in the SOAR range is constructed using the world’s most advanced tech- nical fabrics, following meticulous in-house research and a painstaking design process. Tis means the high- est-performance running kit is no longer the preserve of those at the elite level. Rigorous in house-testing is

at the heart of SOAR, and it’s insistent

that it’s only by being a

runner, and running that you can understand how a garment works in motion — when you’re fresh, when you’re tired, when you’re hot or when you’re cold. Following

a modernist design

approach, the company’s adage is that ‘form follows function’, and that must hold true throughout the entire SOAR range from impossibly lightweight race-day kit to ground-breaking wet- and cold-weather gear and the most comfortable daily run essentials. Form follows function — there’s

beauty in that truth.

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