A recent article in Trail Runner Magazine discussed increasing your performance through improving your self-talk. How much can your inner dialogue improve your performance, you ask? Frankly, I’m not sure that it will improve your performance that much, but it will increase your ability to make it through those tough intense times.
The prime example for me was the Ironman race I did about 6 weeks ago. It was my first Ironman race, so while I didn’t have a very specific goal in mind, I did have some loose goals. After the 2.4 mile swim and the 112 mile bike ride, I finally made it to the 26.2 mile run. During my run, I realized that I had about 9 hours to finish the marathon and thus the race. I could’ve walked the entire race and still been crowned an Ironman. That notion gave me the freedom to run at my own pace and it allowed my inner coach, my mind, to encourage my every step. This would be opposed to the inner chat of, “I’m not good enough, you’re going too slow, why didn’t you train harder, etc.”
It was such a relief, in fact, that I told myself every step I actually run is only getting me to my goal of being an Ironman. I took the entire run one step at a time and had to dig very deep, deeper than ever before, into the depths of pain and suffering. But I did it and I was not just happy with my result, but ecstatic about the mental dialogue throughout the journey. It made the entire day so much easier and more pleasurable to conquer.
How can you improve your performance by improving your inner game? Here are 3 steps that have worked for me.
You must notice when you’re getting down on yourself. So many people are negative and treat themselves horribly. Worse, in fact, then they might treat anyone else. If that’s you or you find yourself being too critical or hard on your performance, stop!
Once you’ve become aware of the negativity, then you have to make a conscious effort to stop being negative. Honestly, this may be the most difficult step. Many of us have become so used to beating ourselves up that we just can’t stop doing it. You must. The quality of your life depends on it. And when you do, you’ll almost immediately notice a freedom. It’s a new found space in your mind. All of a sudden that positive, inner coach comes back. It’s the side of you that really loves you and that wants you to do your best.
Be Positive and Encouraging
The final step is to keep up that positive mental attitude and encouragement. It’s been working for me for years now and it’s allowed me to push harder and go longer than I ever thought possible. I’m not fighting myself any longer. I’ve become my own best teammate. I’m encouraging myself to be better. Not only will that help with your athletic performance, but it might just make the world a better place. As always, I’m here to help, just send me a message @teddymcdonald.