Yes, preparing for a 100 miler is a bunch of mental work, and this is the case for any sport! Part of the mental prep is feeling confident in your physical prep. That is why I have ran over 3,600 miles since last January (2011). I am confident in my my physical ability to run 100 miles next Friday. During my training sessions I have focused on how I am going to keep my nutritional intake (ie. foods, gels, electrolyte drink, water) under control. After all, many ultrarunners ( and athletes in general) DNF because of poor nutrition. Adjusting my nutrition has been very experiemental. I now feel confident in being aware of my body and having somewhat of an idea of the nutritional antidote. So, the first part of mental prep is gaining confidence in physical and nutritional abilities!
Second, mental flexibility is key! I must be okay with the fact that I may break apart physically, that my nutrition could go down hill, or my pace is all messed up. Becoming too obssessive with sticking to a plan will only hurt me. This sounds like life in general!!! Mental flexibility is the ability to adjust and know there is a way out of nearly all problems. Trust me, problems will come. It is about being solution oriented in the moment of what appears to other as complete disaster!
The next key factor is flow. People often ask me why I do not listen to head phones while running. Music distracts me from finding my flow over long periods of time. If this were a 2-3 hour race then I could probably see the argument for music getting me into full engagment. However, staying focused, but not too focused, for 24 hours requires a delicate balance. Switching from association and dissociation is key for me to find my mental flow in this race. In other words, I will switch from focusing on internal (body reactions and stride) to external distractions (conversation, enjoying enviornment, and free flow of thoughts). In order to hlep me be ready to find some flow in the race I have been using some mindfulness and stress reduction breathing techniques. While doing these techniques I have be using imagery to focus on different parts of the race going wrong and how I will stay mentally focused to pull through to success! Gets me excited just thinking of it now!!!
Wooo hooo race day is one week away!