Wednesday Workout Tip: Avoid (at all costs) Negative Thinking
In order to be an Olympic athlete (or any athlete for that matter) you require two key elements – a physically fit and healthy body + a fit and healthy mind. No athlete gets to the top of their sport with just a fit and healthy body, they must have the capacity to self-soothe / coach through difficult moments within their race/game/routine. More specifically, they must possess the power to turn of that negative self chatter (you’ve done it before, most people have).
Examples of negative self-talk:
“That last kilometer was awful. How could I let myself slow down like that.”
“I don’t think I can lift that weight; I’m such a failure.”
“She is such a better runner than I am. I will never be as good so what’s the point.”
I am sure Olympic and other professional athletes have slightly different negative self -talk:
“If I don’t win this race, everyone is going to be thinking I’ve been hitting the bong lately.” ~ Phelps (whom I love dearly)
“I need to win this to prove I am better than Phelps.” ~ Lochte
“I better go slow this race; I don’t want people to think I’m doping.” ~Shiwen
OK, so the negative self talk of Olympians is perhaps slightly different (I was trying to be somewhat funny…) than that of us regular Joe’s. I honestly don’t know exactly how often they engage in negative self-talk or what they ‘talk’ to themselves about. Yet, I do know that they will have engaged in training to control the negative chatter. They’ve been trained to focus on each element/move/position of the race/game/routine that will lead to victory. When the mind is telling them to stop, they move past it and push forward. They understand the importance of visualization and mental control. This mental fitness allows them to not only perform under pressure, but to perform well.
I recently watched a video of a childhood friend, Megan Brown, who is a professional runner, sponsored by Brooks. Here’s the clip. In the clip she talks about the importance of mental training and how she works through negative self talk. I think it demonstrates the importance of training the mind as well as the body. She will likely attend the Olympics in 2016.
The next time you’re doing the activity that you do and you falter, stop yourself from commenting on how awful that was (and perhaps how awful you are). Everyone falters. Those that continue to move forward and find strategies on how to avoid faltering in the future, will be successful. Those that wallow in self-doubt (which we all do from time to time) will find themselves trapped within the confines of their own mental prison. Yes, a bit extreme, but true.
We are constantly setting our own boundaries. My advice: try not to.