11 mental skills of elite athletes we can all use

JUN 19, 2022

Minute 1: Powering through the blah days

Don’t let the headline of this story turn you away: ”How to run when you hate running.” We realize most of you are reading SMM because you actually enjoy running as much as we do, but there are always days when motivation wanes, and this story offers a few constructive ideas. Consider tricks like slowing your pace and turning off your GPS tracker, doing more frequent short runs, or grabbing a friend to go along for the ride. We also like their suggestion to bribe yourself with a little post-race reward – maybe a cold post-run beer or an extra scoop of Ben and Jerry’s. #DazeOff


Minute 2: Very last minute Father’s Day gift ideas


1. 30% off digital photos at MarathonFoto with code DAD30

Our sister company, MarathonFoto, has the world’s largest collection of photos from endurance races over the past 20 years. Their Vault contains more than 200 million images, including pictures from many of the world’s biggest races, including the Boston, New York, and London marathons. If your dad has participated in a lot of races, chances are there are a ton of great shots in their archives. Get 30% off with code DAD30. Find photos of your dad here.

2. Outside+ subscription

This is a great subscription for the outdoorsy dad whose interests go beyond endurance sports. It includes access to all of Outside Online’s content including monthly magazines, an extensive outdoors film library, a GPS app, and online classes. The feature stories are always pretty cool and the gear guides are very informative. Learn more here.

3. Strava subscription

Strava is probably our favorite run and ride tracking app. The company continues to add new features, but they have also become more focused on driving paid subscriptions. So the free version is less compelling while the paid version is better than ever. Fair enough. You know, capitalism and stuff. If you want dad to have all the latest tracking, route-finding and analytics, consider gifting him a subscription today. Learn more here.

4. Fleet Feet gift card

FleetFeet.com is a top destination to shop for running gear and to find excellent content like shoe and apparel reviews. They also have more than 250 specialty run shops nationwide. Many include tools such as dynamic pressure mapping and 3D measurements to get you in the right pair of shoes. Learn more about gift cards and store locations here.

5. Audible subscription

People disagree over wearing headphones while running. We asked y’all about this in a survey last October and it was somewhat split: 52% responded that they run with headphones. If your dad falls into the headphone crowd, an Audible subscription would be a great gift. Learn more here.

6. Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flannagan and Elyse Kopecky eBook

This New York Times bestselling cookbook is all about making healthy food that’s indulgent and satisfying. It’s written by Olympic medalist Shalane Flannagan and chef Elyse Kopecky. These recipes are great for weeknights or cooking as a family. Learn more here.


Minute 3: The psychological skills of elite athletes

We remember an interview with an Olympic nordic skier many years ago when the winner told a TV interviewer that 80% of the race was mental, rather than physical. The surprised NBC host took a few moments to process the logic that since every skier in the grueling endurance event was in peak condition, it was really the psychological strength that determined a winner. Recently, a Canadian non-profit called Own the Podium set out to identify those between-the-ears assets that determine a champion. Their research is summarized in this new piece from Outside: “The 11 Mental Skills That Make an Athlete Elite.” Some of those critical factors include confidence, motivation, stress management, and self-awareness. It’s also interesting that the research left off the following skills that make many such lists: goal-setting, imagery and self-talk. #PsychWonOhWon


Minute 4: Shoe review: Altra Mont Blanc

Brian Metzler weighs in again this week with a new shoe review. This week he dives into the Altra Mont Blanc. This is the Reader’s Digest version, but for the complete story, please click here [please add link to SMM Wix site] to see it on our website. Here is Brian’s take:

Altra has been deeply immersed in trail running since its inception more than a decade ago, thanks to the ultra-distance racing experiences and Utah mountain tramping of co-founders Brian Beckstead and Golden Harper. Most of the brand’s original models — the Lone Peak, Timp and Superior — have evolved gradually and are among the best-selling trail shoes every year. But Altra’s new signature trail shoe — the Mont Blanc — is perhaps most emblematic of the brand since its 2018 acquisition by VF Corp and move to Denver, where it has been able to access the advanced shoe design technology and resources of sister brands Timberland and The North Face.

What’s New: The Mont Blanc is a brand-new streamlined, race-ready shoe inspired by the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc trail running events based in Chamonix, France. It’s a light, nimble and cushy race-ready cruiser made with premium materials and features — most notably hyper-responsive Altra EGO MAX foam, a grippy Vibram LiteBase outsole and a wispy engineered mesh upper — designed for running fast on a wide variety of surfaces.

Why It’s Great: It’s great because it combines an ideal blend of comfort, cushioning, traction and speedy vibe for trail racing. The Mont Blanc is comfortable and well-cushioned, but also extremely light and agile. That’s a surprisingly unique blend for most mountain running shoes, which are often slightly heavier or a tad clunky even though they excel on technical terrain. The Mont Blanc feels like your favorite road racing shoes with a trail tread, but it’s much more sophisticated than that.

For more pros and cons on the Altra Mont Blanc, check out Brian’s full review here. #AltraSound


Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Leading up to the Boston Marathon, we mentioned one of the most inspirational stories of the year when a woman was trying to complete an epic marathon streak. Well, it turns out she hit her goal and CNN just created a nice profile of her: “'It showed me how strong our bodies can be,' says amputee athlete Jacky Hunt-Broersma after running 104 marathons in 104 days.”

  • Sales of running and outdoor performance shoes are down about 8% this year compared to the pandemic-fueled 2021: “Athletic Footwear Sales Have Declined — and the Market Is About to Get Promotional.” Sales are still up versus pre-Covid days thanks to a surge of interest in health and fitness over the past few years, but it’s just hard to keep up with the 20% surge in 2021 driven in part by stimulus dollars. The good news for consumers is that shoe manufacturers are likely to offer significant discounts for the rest of this year to boost their revenue.

  • As we mentioned above, Strava is a good gift for dad as the app continues to add more features. Here is news on the latest: “Strava Adding Video Support: Here’s how it works.” While we are happy Strava users, we have always been a little skeptical about the idea that Strava is a true social network. Seeing our friends’ workout data is kinda interesting, but not as compelling as their Instagram posts. Allowing users to now post video boosts content sharing among Strava users and brings them a step closer to creating real social engagement.


Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Earlier this week we brought you a story about humans competing against horses in a trail race. Leave it to Red Bull’s adrenaline junkies to take it a step further. They concocted a race in which dirt rally cars tried to finish 8 laps of a track before trail runners could complete 4 laps. The quick video captures some epic imagery as cars hit dirt ramp jumps while the humans pass below them. Check it out below.