Weather and Mental Toughness

It really doesn’t matter where you are from. We all have to deal with weather. Unless you go into hibernation all winter up north or all summer in the south you’ll have to deal with the weather. Of course a treadmill is one option for your training if it is available to you… but what if it’s race day?

Next to insufficient time, weather is arguably the most common excuse not to get a workout in. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. It’s too windy. It’s too humid. It’s too dry. It’s too sunny. It’s too dark. You get the idea. It really doesn’t matter what the weather is – someone will use it as an excuse not to perform or not to get that workout done.

Did the weather single you out? Are you the only one being treated to heat, cold or wind today? Here’s the reality of weather. It does not discriminate. Everyone in your vicinity is being treated equally. So if you don’t have a treadmill to retreat to for your workout or if it is race day you have a choice. You can face it or give in to it.

Weather is an equal opportunity adversity. Or is it?

Objectively we know that in very cold, very hot or very windy conditions performances suffer. That’s just a fact. The effects of cold, heat and wind are well documented. You will not be able to run as fast in extreme conditions as in moderate ones. [And if by some happenstance you run a PR on an extreme weather day – you can be guaranteed that you would have run even faster in moderate conditions. So you’ll still have something to look forward to.]

Though the weather conditions are the same for everyone how each person handles that weather is not. And there lies the difference that is the difference: your mental game and how you handle adverse weather conditions. The more negative your self-talk, the more you dwell on external uncontrollable elements – the less confident you will be; the more doubts about your ability will dominate your mind; the less race focused you will be. It commonly results in a reduced physical effort/intensity, anxiousness about results or how things will go during the race, and increased stress – all of which increase muscle tension and decrease optimal physical performance. Think about two competitors of equal ability about to race on a cold blustery day.

Runner 1 tells herself: I hate the cold. I never run good in the cold. I can’t wait for this to be over. Maybe I’ll just do this race as a training run. My hands are freezing. Will this wind ever stop.

Runner 2 tells herself: I’m strong and confident that I can handle anything thrown my way. Head down and all ahead full. Think “strong”. I’ll take each mile as it comes and execute my race plan. I’ll pace right behind the pack and let them break the wind until I launch my kick.

I put my money on Runner 2. She may not set a PR today but she is figuratively and literally heads above the other runner on this day.

If you want to wait for a perfect day to run or get a workout in – you may be waiting awhile. If you use weather as an excuse for your performance you’ll always be a step behind those who don’t. The time to get mentally strong is in training. If you avoid workouts every bad weather day – you are avoiding an opportunity to hone your mental toughness. And that will serve you on race day… regardless of the weather.

1 comment on “Weather and Mental Toughness”

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to toolbar