By Colorado Psychotherapy and Sport Performance, LLC / August 26, 2022

Leadville from the Sidelines: Mental Skills

Observations from a Mental Performance Consultant

Last weekend I had the great opportunity to both pace and volunteer at the Leadville 100. It gave me the opportuity to not just give back to this awesome community but to observe as a mental peroformance consultant and as a coach. To take in what was clearly working for people, and what wasn’t.

Here are five things that I saw that were clearly working from both the leaders of the race as well as back of the packers.

) Patience. The people I saw struggling clearly burned their matches coming up to Hope Pass. They laid on the ground at the aid station, eyes screaming defeat. Have patience from the start. I know people that made it to Mayqueen in 2:30 and easily finished. Claire Gallagher with whom I’ll mention again in this was very patient - gaining ever so quickly on the leaders. Not just patience with the experience but with themselves! They didn’t flog themselves if they slowed down, or had a bad moment, they adjusted and moved through it.

2) Radiate Gratitude. Claire Gallagher was a classic example. Coming from behind up Hope Pass she had an ever present smile, was thankful to those that offered help. Gratitude is a secret (shouldn’t be so secret) weapon. It is known to create optimism. Thank those around you. There were so many that embodied this.

3) Smile. Those smiling radiated joy, another secret tool that builds optimism. It is contagious to those around you and they radiate it back. Marathoner Eliud Kipchoge is a great example of someone who uses his smile to run.

4) Be Present. Stay where your feet are (constantly moving) those focused on the finish created tension, sometimes a mismatch of where they wanted to be and where they were. Notice what’s around you. The people, the environment. Staying grounded allows you the space to focus on the things you can control.

5) Be composed. Emotional regulation is key. To hot and you’ll flame out quickly like those who took off like bats out of hell at the start. When you start getting hooked by fear of not making cut offs, or not getting the result you wanted, take a deep breath, come back to the present.

There were many other not so obvious skills that people were using like positive self talk and imagery. I know for certain that training AND practicing your mental skills will increase the likelihood for success in this race and other ultras. If you’d like to talk about developing a periodized mental skills plan don’t hesitate to contact me!

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