August 17 2017
Angela Cortez is the toughest 6-year-old runner around.
United States swimmer Dana Vollmer does one small thing prior to the start of every race: she writes a word on the top of her foot, so it is the last thing she sees before diving off the blocks. In one race, she wrote the word “forward,” so she visualized herself moving through space.
According to sports psychologist and sub-3-hour marathoner Dr. Jim Taylor, these words can be an important way to build confidence, particularly when the going gets tough. “I’m a big believer in using what I call ‘keywords’ during training and races and then writing those messages on your hands or arms,” he says. “The reality of running is that it can be very painful, and when you’re struggling, it’s difficult to step back and figure out what to do. Keywords can be great reminders of what runners need to do when things get hard.”
Sample mantras: “I can do this” or “tough” or “smooth and strong” or even jotting down the number of total miles you’ve logged in training can be potent inspiration at tough times.