Being an Active Student: The Benefits of a Racing Mind-Set
It’s no secret that for the majority of students embarking on a degree at University, the reality of maintaining a healthy balance between studying, fitness and a social life, is a challenge. Students arrive with a broad range of sporting abilities, so why are the majority of them deemed unhealthy? The term ‘Fresher’s 5’ is used to describe the average weight gain of 5kg during your first year of university (something which I personally experienced). This is most likely due to the excessive consumption of alcohol, malnutrition, excess stress and decreased levels of exercise. It is too easy to get caught up in an unhealthy lifestyle when hundreds of other students of a similar age are doing the same.
It takes discipline, determination and dedication to maintain a healthy body and mind-set, so with this in mind, I’ve set myself the challenge of completing the endurance race ‘King of the Hill 6’. This is greater than any previous physical challenge I have completed and encompasses 6 hours of running up and down the rolling hills of the Wessenden Valley in West Yorkshire. Tackling such a feat is going to require not only intense physical conditioning, but also a mental pursuit.
‘Believe you can and you’re halfway there.’ is an important outlook for many endurance events. Just like your body, your mind also needs to be trained. You may be in perfect shape for race day, but many athletes fatigue mentally before they do physically, just as many students let nerves get the better of themselves if an exam question does not go their way.
Fortunately, there are things that can be done to prevent mental fatigue, top endurance athletes are able to remain in a psychologically positive frame of mind even when physically fatigued, this is not by chance but due to mental training. A technique proven to be effective is self-help – instead of focusing on all that could go wrong during a race, outline potential obstacles and make solutions if they were to happen, this way you will already have a plan in place, putting your mind at ease before the race. Anxiety before a race is also natural, with the anticipation of a race it is easy to think the challenge you have set is too difficult and unachievable, but turning this anxious state into excitement and motivation will increase performance and most importantly allow you to enjoy the race!
Setting myself the goal of completing ‘King of the Hill 6’ whilst completing my final year at University may seem to many like a lot to take on, but I firmly believe having a healthy body and mind preparing for this race will also help with my studies.