Friday, 28 February 2014

Self-Belief

Posted by speedygeoff On Friday, February 28, 2014 | No comments
While positive thinking won't necessarily make you run faster, negative thinking will make you run slower. Self-belief is a wonderful thing and most of you will have it in large quantities. However we all know the odd athlete whose negative mental attitude manifests in negative talk and negative results. You can be your own worst enemy. "I am not going to do well today" turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophesy. There may even be days when such thoughts cross your mind. On such days a surprise PB is unlikely. A healthy optimism is no bad thing.

What do you think about when you are running, and when you are preparing to race? Does your thinking help your performance? What do you hear yourself saying about yourself?

Firstly, don't spend all your time sweating over what some other competitor may do. In running, in jumping, in throwing, in walking, you have very little control over someone else's performance. A partial exception might be the 800m, an event in which your strategy and tactics could have some influence over someone else's time. But even then it is best to focus on what your own strategy is going to be rather than seeing it all from someone else's viewpoint. Don’t gift others control over your performance.

What you do have control over are your own thoughts and actions. One good idea is to mentally rehearse every important event. Throwers practice their skills over and over. Runners check a course thoroughly and see themselves doing each part of it well, efficiently, smoothly. Sprinters and jumpers talk themselves up before each effort in the same way that you see weightlifters and boxers do. You could decide to emulate these guys: Mohammed Ali’s "I am the greatest" wasn't just bragging, it was positive self-talk. If you are not the greatest as well, something like "I have done all the training, I am ready to go" would do. Make sure you do all the training though.

It is hard to convince yourself of something you know to be untrue. Self-talk is honest as well as positive. It reinforces what you already know.

It’s a great idea to have a coach who is able to give you this positive encouragement and feedback. A good coach boosts your confidence. And of course, the coach gives you advice in the areas of appropriate condition and good form.

Just listen to the talk around the start area before a fun run. You'd think all these guys were chronically ill and will spend the rest of their lives in high care. Perhaps they think they are psyching others out, but they seem to be doing damage to their own chances of success. Instead of sharing your fears, state positively “I will do my best today” and similar affirmations.

Belief alone won't make you run faster. Otherwise there would be thousands of runners breaking the two hour marathon barrier. But disbelief will limit you. And belief could start you on the road to better and happier times.

Start believing in yourself, stop comparing yourself with others, do your best by believing the best.

- article for March "Vetrunner" magazine

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