When the going gets tough, how can you train your mind to keep going when all you want to do is give up?
When training for an event or race, the physical preparation is all you need to perform well and achieve success on race day right? Mmm, not really. Humans are a complicated species and ticking off all the physical sessions on your training plan, whilst 100% important, does not guarantee that the journey to the finish line will be a breeze. The mind plays a very big and important role in performance and will be the thing that gives up before your body does.
Embrace a Growth Mindset
Adopting a growth mindset is all about embracing the challenge of learning and viewing tough sessions as opportunities to grow.
Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, Carol Dweck’s work and research into a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset found that how students perceive their abilities played a key role in their motivation and achievement.
A belief that skills and intelligence can be developed rather than just something you are born with (fixed) led to better performances. A growth mindset is about shifting that ‘I can’t do that‘ stance into, ‘I can learn how and get better in the process.‘ How fantastic is it that every race, event or training session presents an opportunity to learn something new?
I never lose. I either win or I learn.Nelson Mandela
Talk to Yourself (Nicely)
In a study conducted by Bangor University, cyclists who had been taught self-talk techniques over a period of two weeks lasted two minutes longer in a time-to-exhaustion trial than when they first took the trial at the beginning of the two weeks.
Try switching, ‘This hurts,’ to ‘I’m strong and I can do this.’
‘We used to give our runners the mantra, FFS,’ explains Girls Run the World founder, Rachael Woolston. ‘It does not stand for what you think …fast, fierce, fearless.’
Bangor University followed also studied whether the way we refer to ourselves also made a difference to performance. In 10km time trial sessions, cyclists performed 23 seconds faster when referring to themselves in the second-person; ‘You can do this!’ vs ‘I can do this!’ Talking to yourself in the second-person creates an element of separation from the challenge, creating perspective.
The brain is an amazing organ, designed to be on alert at all times, scouting out potential threats.
‘This is why it kicks in and tells you to stop or slow down when you feel uncomfortable,’ adds GRTW founder, Rachael. ‘The key is develop the mental resilience to be comfortable with the discomfort.’
Accept that training will test you but that, through practise you will build that positive mindset.
Find your tribe
As human beings, we have an inherent need for other people. Tapping into a community of like-minded people who are training for the same goal creates a sense of belonging and can help strengthen your mindset and boosting motivation.
Knowing that other people may be experiencing the same highs and lows as you dispels the feeling of being alone. It is also important to share goals and ambitions with those close to you so they can support you in your training and understand the direction you are heading. And what a mega boost it is to see friends and family on the side-lines of an event!
Define Your Goal
Why are you training? Why have you entered a particular run or triathlon? Understanding and acknowledging your goals gives your training an important sense of purpose. When things are difficult, cultivating optimism by focusing on your bigger picture, the goal that you are working towards can help you take the small consistent steps needed to get there. Expect self-doubt, negative feelings and failings along the way, it is all part of the journey. Explore your why to help you choose the right goal event with our Mindset Reset Course.
And one last thing…a smile can go a long way in convincing your brain that everything is OK. Even the science says so – runners who smile use less oxygen and experience a lower rate of perceived exertion!
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