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Mental Training

How To Build The Ideal Environment To Reach Your Goals

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Running and training aren’t just about putting in the miles or checking another workout off the list. It’s also about creating the environment you need for motivation and passion to thrive at your highest frequency. Both on the macro scale in the context of daily life as well as on the micro-scale within an actual race or competition. Below are a few important areas to think about and tips for how to create the environment you need to be at your best.

Support System

  • Who makes you feel most motivated and supported?
  • What interactions make you feel less motivated or supported?
  • What, if any, influence or control do you have over those factors?

We are constantly influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. It’s important to stop and acknowledge the relationships that make you feel more empowered to reach your goals and those that might be a hindrance. Deciding who you want to spend time with and when has a powerful impact on your actions and behaviors. Be purposeful and intentional about those decisions and make sure they are in line with the things you want to achieve. Whether it’s a partner, parent, coach, training buddy, etc. notice how you’re impacted by those interactions and whether they are working for or against you. For example, maybe there’s a training buddy or another athlete who tends to make you feel more anxious and nervous before a race – that might be someone you choose not to be around prior to the start. It’s okay to set boundaries and create the support system you need.

Training Environment

  • Are you structuring your training sessions to maximize the conditions that allow for your best effort?
  • Are you setting training goals and being intentional about deliberate practice?
  • Are you getting the most out of your training sessions?

The training environment you design for yourself has a huge impact on the quality of the work you’re putting in. Notice which factors (i.e. when you train, whom you train with, etc.) have a positive or negative impact on the quality of the session. Set intentions and commitments for each session so that you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and have a gauge to see how you did where you can improve. For example, maybe on your next long run you’ll ditch your iPod and force yourself to focus on being present and managing self-talk without any built-in distractions.

Racing Environment 

  • What influences trigger doubt or pre-race anxiety? Are they avoidable?
  • What influences invoke belief and confidence? Are they within your control?

I know from my own experience that it’s easy to feel like we have no control over pre-race nerves or doubt. However, if you really examine your pre-race routines you’re likely to discover some avoidable triggers that may lead to negative thoughts and emotions versus positive ones. Once you have discovered the sources of positive influences and negative influences, noting which ones you can control and which ones you can’t, you can curate the most productive environment needed to race at your best. While there are many things out of our control, there are also many things within our control. Make sure you’re making the controllables work for you.

Whether we notice it or not, our environment is constantly influencing us in pretty profound ways. Without exercising self-awareness to notice wither the impact or productive or unproductive, you’re giving up the opportunity to maximize the time, effort, and energy you’re putting in. You can’t always control everything, but you do have the ability to create the circumstances you need to be in the most productive environment to be at your best.