One of my favourite psychology effects is the ‘Batman Effect’. Some very cool researchers were looking at what helped children to keep persevering, or keep toughing it out, when they got given a homework task that they didn’t enjoy. What they found really helped, was allowing the children to dress up as superheroes. In fact, when divided into superhero vs non-superhero but motivational talking vs control groups, the superheroes got the most work done out of the three groups!
Donning Superman’s cape, or wearing Batman’s mask, apart from being fun, seems to have a real effect on perseverance. The explanation for this, is that when confronted with a difficult task, the children seemed to want to live up to the aspirational qualities of the superheroes they were dressed as. This desire to ‘be like batman’ helped them get through the challenge. Hence, the Batman effect.
So how does this help a Comrades runner?
No, you don’t have to wear a cape (unless you really want to).
What you do need to do though, is think about the kind of runner you want to be out there on the road: someone who never gives up, or someone that is always encouraging those around you, or someone that enjoys challenges or maybe someone that can fight through pain. This is your superhero costume (or as Americans sometimes like to say: your Game Face). On the morning of Comrades, you ‘put on’ this costume (when you go through your pre-race routine in the morning think of it as getting changed into your costume) and become the runner you want to be with all the aspirational qualities you most want to have. Then, when times get tough and you have to push through think “What would Batman (or insert your superhero name here) do?” Then do that.