Q: When the race gets hard, how can I stop myself from throwing in the towel?
Runners often face moments when they want to quit, says sports psychologist William Wiener, PhD. The key is to anticipate these moments and be mentally prepared for them. "Before the race it's helpful to reflect on past experiences where the brain has wanted to quit and the body has pressed on successfully, says Wiener. During the race, if you start to feel like you can't go on, label the sensation as uncomfortable rather than intolerable and remind yourself that the feeling will pass. "Try telling yourself that you will reevaluate the decision to quit in five minutes," he suggests. You can also sustain your motivation by carrying a small, symbolic article, like a piece of a winner's ribbon. "Before and during the race, it's helpful to visualize a successful finish and to try to connect to the feelings that a finish would bring," says Wiener.
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