The “Just One More” Focus

I was at the track this morning. Anytime I know it will be a challenging workout – my common refrain is “just take it one at a time” and as we progress further into the workout – “just focus on this one.” That happens to be what I started this morning’s session with when I saw fear and dread after announcing the pending workout.

One woman said, “You sure say that a lot.” Then the other chimed in, “Ya, but it really works! I don’t want to think about how many of these we have to do. Next thing you know, we’re done.”

Why does it work?
1. It chops a large project into bite sized pieces (just like the “eating an elephant” approach). Therefore, psychologically it is less daunting. We think of it as manageable. We can do this. It sets the stage – the mindset – to succeed.
2. It produces a process focus. You can only run one repetition at a time, only do one lap at a time and only run one stride at a time. You cannot do more. Therefore, our mental focus is only on what is most immediately relevant in accomplishing your workout.
3. It focuses on what you control instead of what you don’t control. You control your mind, you chose your attitude, and finally you and only you control taking – one more stride, one more lap, or one more “rep”.
4. It avoids an outcome focus. We aren’t thinking about our final split time totals; or about having completed a certain number of quality miles this week; or about tomorrow’s workout; or how sore we will be tomorrow.
5. It keeps in a present focus. We do not control whether we hit our split times on the last “rep”. Right now, we do not control if we will hit the next “rep” on time. We only control right now; our current effort; our current determination to maintain pace.
6. It trains your mind! You are practicing the very focusing skills you must have to perform at your best in competition. You will not magically find out how to “focus” to get through bad patches in the middle of a race. You will not magically figure out what to concentrate on in the last miles of your marathon. You must practice the way you race.

Make it your Mantra
The power is in believing. If you ingrain simple phrases like – “just one more” – into your workouts you concentrate on what you control. You focus on the process. And you are training yourself to have a special skill developed the next time you have a tough time in a race so you can focus on getting through one more step, through one more mile or just to the next corner… especially those last miles of a marathon!


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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3 Responses to The “Just One More” Focus

  1. TriExpert says:

    Dean, what you’ve said has been said before, but rarely so clearly, concisely and comprehensively!

  2. Mark,
    Thank you. It is funny how saying something differently resonates with some people. Also, it seems that people need to hear things multiple times before it really sinks in and even more times before they take action on it.

    I visited your website. Good stuff. Sometime when I go back east I’ll have to get up your way.

  3. Seoirse says:

    Hi, this is a great topic for me. I find that if i have a long run ahead of me and i think only of “oh no… i have 20 more K ahead of me or oh no i have 1hr left to run” i never perform my best and just get bogged down and do a slower time than ever. If i just think about this lap or “ok just one more hill” i run my best, so i guess then its a mind game (amongst other things) that helps us perform our best and if i may refer to a line i love when i find my run is getting difficult “The mind controls the body… the body does not control the mind”

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