The basis for a successful endurance event (road race, marathon, tennis football, soccer, etc.) is a good training program. Equally important is the athlete's psychological make-up; he or she must focus on his or her mental status and concentration levels.

Concentrate on setting your goals for your training schedule. The program schedule must have a built-in alternative schedule to allow for the possibility of injury or sickness. Work on your training endurance to gain strength and then to increase speed.

One of the biggest problems that an athlete will experience is the lack of concentration during training. Then, when the day of competition arrives, the endurance athlete just doesn't feel relaxed or comfortable. Nerves and muscles are working against athletes because they are attempting to do something completely new or different from the previous training schedule.

If the athlete has been training at an 8-minute pace throughout the training program, and then on race day, a 7-minute pace is attempted in the race, this is a violation to the "set goals and training principle." You should select the time you want to complete your event and use the planned pace during practice.

There is also the possibility that the athlete may not have had good nutritional habits during the hard training sessions. The individual must eat enough carbohydrates and consume enough electrolyte replacement drinks.

It is important to get enough sleep and to relax, and to give oneself enough recovery time between hard training activities. When the day of the event comes, you should have a feeling of supreme self-confidence. Concentrate your entire being on the event right from the start, and don't allow your mind to wander!

Dr. Robert Weiss lives in Westport and has a sports-podiatry practice in Darien. He is a former marathon runner and was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and the 1988 Olympic Trials.