When asked about the most important lesson she had learnt about mental health Britain’s most successful female distance runner, Paula Radcliffe MBE, said:
“I’ve learnt that it’s important to keep things in perspective. It also helps to talk to professionals.”
The athlete happily answered a broad range of questions, covering her personal approach to mental health, mind techniques that help enhance sports performance and how business should approach mental health.
Personal perspectives on mental health
The six times world champion dealt with a series of questions on her personal approach to mental health.
When she was asked how she deals with personal verbal abuse. The former BBC sports personality of the year replied: “Turning the other cheek, look yourself in the mirror and see it isn’t true. Accept some people are just nasty and it’s not your fault.”
The athlete was asked which one moment or achievement helped her cope with mental health. She responded:
“Maybe the birth of my children, as you have to remember thereafter perspective and strength and always be there for them.”
The link between a strong mind and physical performance
The world record marathon holder answered a range of questions on how to use mind techniques to harness sports performance.
Answering a question about whether she uses mental imagery to help her through tough training or races, Radcliffe replied: “Yes, visualize the end goal, think back to good experiences in races, mind techniques to stay in the moment.
In response to a question on how she deals with different personalities in a competitive environment. Radcliffe said:
“Focus on yourself, what you can control and don’t worry about what you can’t control.”
A new approach to mental health at work
There were a lot of questions about mental health in the workplace.
When asked what business can learn from sport in relation to mental health, Radcliffe replied:
“Techniques to get the best from yourself, trust instincts, work as a team, set goals and work towards them.”
The world record athlete also suggested what employers can do to support mental health when she said:
“Recognising the importance of facilitating openness and reduce discrimination.”
The Q&A took place on international women’s day. So when she was asked about her female role models, Paula cited Greta Waitz (the former Norwegian marathon runner and world record holder) and Ingrid Kristianson (another former Norwegian long distance runner who was a world champion in 5,000 metres, 10,000 metres and the marathon). But she revealed that true inspiration was closer to home when she said: “…in sport and in life my biggest inspiration is my grandma – Olive.”