[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text margin_bottom=”10″]Self belief is not a factor that typically gets talked about a lot with running. Our main focus has been on supporting all those little things that help us physiologically – nutrition, hydration, sleep, training stimulii, shoes, apparel…
Yet, if you don’t believe that you can reach a goal, how likely are you to reach it, even to try to reach it?
Things are changing though, and the mental state of athletes is now receiving the kind of attention it has always deserved. David Roche, a highly successful coach (think 2016 Leadville women’s winner Clare Gallagher, Skyrunning champion Hillary Allen), recently penned a feature in Trail Runner Magazine about self belief. “The best training tip isn’t about training at all. Instead, it’s about life. And it’s simple: believe in yourself.”
One of the most wonderful parts about being a coach is seeing an athlete develop into the performer that you knew they have the potential to be. Most people have a sense that they have potential to become something more than they already are. The difference for those that succeed is that they believed they could succeed, and took key steps on the way to make sure it happened.
The year I was born Roger Bannister became the first man to break the four minute barrier for a mile. For many years athletes had been coming agonizingly close to the barrier, seemingly unable to break it. Bannister was one of several athletes that were fancied to break that elusive magic mile time (recommended read, the Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb). Bannister had been self coached for many years, and trained diligently to achieve what many thought was physically impossible. When Franz Stampfl started coaching Bannister, nothing greatly changed in the training regimen that Bannister followed. What did change was that Stampfl was able to see that Bannister needed to believe that a sub four minute mile was possible, and that he was the athlete to do it. He worked on Bannister’s self belief, so that he started to imagine that he could successfully break that four minute barrier. Once Bannister broke the mark, several athletes quickly followed in rapid succession. Most of the limits we place on what we think we can and can’t achieve are in our mind. Learning to free ourselves from these limits enables us to discover what we are truly capable of. Magic happens.
What steps can we take to let that magic flow? Here are four key tips that will help you generate rock solid self belief:
- Amplify your positives
Many people find it hard to think about what they like about themselves. Yet each of us is a miracle of life, and have many many positive qualities. As an athlete, think about what you do well, what progress you have made, what key qualities differentiate you from someone else. Then repeat them to yourself, make cards with affirmations and post them everywhere you go, turn up the volume, the brightness, the colors. Keep working on this, and watch your self belief grow as you realize that you are a special human being.
- Turn down the negatives
We all have those voices, the one that tells us we’re not good enough, fast enough, strong enough, light enough, heavy enough, pretty enough….whatever the negatives, we empower them and make them far stronger by listening to them, and then repeating them. We will often repeat things about ourselves until we believe them to be true, even though they never were. When a negative thought about you pops into your mind, treat it like a cloud that passes in the sky. It’s there, and then it’s gone. No need to investigate where it came from, just calmly accept it is there, then just let it pass. Once it has passed, replace the thought with one that is positive about yourself. Learning to do this interrupts a cycle of negativity that many people get stuck in. This is good juju.
- Visualize yourself believing, and being successful
Coaches will often use video recordings to check on improvements to running form, to help their athletes become more efficient runners. Use your imagination to see yourself as someone with rock solid self belief, that can deal with distractions, when things get tough, and allow yourself to be successful. Watch other people that are confident, have great self belief, and watch how they behave, talk, and act. Put yourself in their shoes, what would you need to change in order to become like them? Once you have found your video of you with strong self belief, repeat it, rehearse it, practice, practice, practice…pretty soon you’ll find you are thinking like this naturally, and you have become what your imagination started. Magic happens!
- Beware comparisons
Comparing yourself negatively to someone else is like shooting yourself in the foot. It’s a way of holding yourself back, from being the inevitable star you were meant to be. No one else has lived your life, you haven’t lived anyone else’s life. Forget comparisons, and follow great role models instead. Choose people that have great qualities and characteristics that you really admire and from whom you can learn. Take opportunities to remind yourself of how lucky you are to be you. You are amazing!
Terry Chiplin, the visionary behind activacuity, provides positive coaching sessions for clients, working with athletes to enable a positive focus on their status and goals. He can also create personalized guided imagery sessions for clients, delivered as an mp3 audio file that you can listen to on multiple devices. activacuity provides a daily dose of positive guided imagery or visualization sessions. Find out what you can do when you make that mind-body connection – check out our subscription options here.
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