Mental Training can help you a lot to find a solution to your fears and improve your performance. Read the interview with Paolo Depaoli, Ultra Trail Runner about his personal experience.
Cris: What were your main fears in trail running and did they have a negative impact on your performance?
Paolo: During the Ultra Trail Monte Soglio while I was running downhill on relatively simple terrain, I lost concentration. My brain refused to remain focused on what I was doing. I twisted my ankle 3 times and I had to withdraw from the race. From that moment on, the descents in trail running became a nightmare for me. I was always afraid of hurting myself and, not to take risks, I was slowing down and running with very stiff muscles. It was very demoralizing to see the other athletes passing me. I realized that it had become a big problem both during the races and training sessions and my competitions were no longer up to my expectations.
Cris: Why did you decide to rely on a Sports Psychologist and how did this decision changed you life as a ultra trail runner?
Paolo: The Coaches of my Sports Club TRM Team directed me to a Mental Training Program guided by a Sports Psychologist expert in Endurance Sports. At the beginning I did not believe in these methods, but I must say that they made me discover a new “World” about what our mind can do. Dr. Silvia Petrini, the Mental Coach, Partner of TRM, gave me specific exercises to perform during trail running training sessions while preparing the TDS, one of the races of the Mont Blanc, very technical. After a few sessions and my personal commitment during all workouts, I improved a lot my downhill running and my fears slowly disappeared.
Cris: What are the main tools you used to overcome your fears?
Paolo: I worked a lot with the Mental Coach to find my personal “Chakras” to be repeated during the descents, in order to stay focused. Initially it was very stressful because I had to run, repeat the Chakras and focus on the athletic gesture, but then continuing with this training it became an automatism.
Cris: What are the tangible benefits of the Mental Coaching for the athletic performance?
Paolo: I increased my sense of safety and concentration during downhill running. As a result I gained agility in athletic gesture and speed. Now I use the Method taught by Mental Coach especially in long distance races. During an Ultra Trail, inevitably, at some point, due to tiredness and the fact that you have monitor many aspects, the risk of losing concentration is very high and therefore it is very easy to get hurt.