... ... Mental Training - Mile27
Aug 022018

Mile 27 Coach Ben Duffus joins us on the blog to talk about how constantly focussing on improvement rather than results can lead to better outcomes and more enjoyment of the process.

Ben works towards mastering the UTA 100 course.

The title of this post might sound a little contrived, but these are the 4 words that pop up on my phone’s to-do-list app each morning. Perhaps that says a lot about me, but it means that every single day I have to do something to better myself before I can tick it off. Each word has been carefully chosen: “Relentless” because it is unwavering and unceasing, “Improvement” because the aim to reach ever higher, “Towards” because there is always room to do better, and “Mastery” because I’m striving for much more than competency.

But the point of this post isn’t to let everyone know that I enjoy corny motivation slogans or that I’m lost without my phone reminding me what to do each day; it’s about how I believe that constantly focusing on improvement rather than results can ultimately make us better ultramarathon runners, while also enjoying the process more.

Some of you will already be quite familiar with concept of a “fixed mindset” versus a “growth mindset”, and for anyone interested in reading more about the topic I highly recommend Prof. Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Briefly, a fixed mindset is the belief that certain qualities cannot be changed whereas a growth mindset is the belief that they can be improved. Everybody has a little bit of both mindsets and it will vary depending on the topic, their mood, etc, but most of us have a tendency to fall into one or the other a majority of the time. Which pattern of thinking we tend to fall into can have been brought about by many different factors, such as how and for what we were (or weren’t) praised for as a child. Such details are beyond the scope of this post (but again, I refer anyone interested to Dr Dweck’s book and/or research papers). Continue reading »

Apr 132017

Mile 27 Coach Scotty Hawker cruising in the early k’s of TNF 100 before his first top 10 finish

At some point in an ultra many of us cross the line from racing to surviving. We go from feeling confident about finishing well, feeling in control of our legs, able to run sections we think are runnable, meeting our target time, running a PB, to being resigned to just finishing, wanting it to be over, wishing the finish line would come a lot sooner so the pain can be over.

The cross over point is usually around 60-75% of race distance. In a race like Ultra Trail Australia 100 it’s the leg from the Aquatic Centre to Queen Vic Hospital, the 54-78km mark. At UTMB it’s usually just before or after Champex at the 120k mark. It’s the point mentally where there still seems a long way to go but you have already come so far that your the legs and mind can feel very fatigued.

Fortunately the ability to race the whole distance is not confined to the elites. Racing the entire distance is relative to one’s ability so anyone can race the whole distance. All it takes is a good training plan and good race execution. There are two main areas to focus on in both training and racing to improve your ability to race the distance – physical and mental. Physically it comes down to a number of things. Training being the most important. Without proper training it’s not a matter of if you’ll go into survival mode but when. Continue reading »

Jun 062015
Scotty looking strong in the HK100

Scotty looking strong in the HK100

Mile 27 Coach Scotty Hawker had a break through performance at the recent TNF100. In this blog Scotty takes us back to the Hong Kong 100 where he finally gained the belief that he could compete with the best ultra-runners in the world. The lessons he learnt in this race can be used by all of us. Since the mind controls how much of our training and potential we can use in a race , learning to work with the mind can help us take that next step in performance, whether thats competing with the elites or simply mixing it up with a faster group than you normally run with. Take it away Scotty …

Goosebumps kick in, self doubt, nerves… am I really good enough to be here? Why on earth am I standing on the front line at the Hong Kong 100? As I look around I see faces I recognise from social media such as Jez Bragg, Dave Mackey, Antoine Guillon. These guys are on a whole different level; aren’t they?
Continue reading »

Nov 072014

Do you look out the window watching the rain pour down and start to dread your run?

Does looking out the window before a run and seeing this fill you with dread?

Does looking out the window before a run and seeing this fill you with dread?

Clients often ask me what to do if the weather is “bad” for a particular training session. I’m not exactly sure what “bad” weather is. If you are looking for a sport that’s only played in “good” weather then you should have taken up cricket!

Trail races are run in the heat, through snow, in freezing cold, pouring rain, gale forced winds, blast furnace heat and oppressive humidity. Performing well in these environments means you have to be comfortable in those environments. Continue reading »

Jun 132014

Does your body or your mind limit your race day performance?

Mind over matter. Signage before the last big climb of the Yurrebilla Trail Ultra

Mind over matter. Signage before the last big climb of the Yurrebilla Trail Ultra

We all know that dead feeling in our legs, the feeling of complete physical exhaustion. Mentally we could keep going but our body is saying no more. Or is it?

The latest thinking is that the mind controls fatigue much more than the body. Continue reading »