How often do you say something like the following:
- I do better when I’m the underdog.
- I do better when I come from behind.
- I do better when no one expects me to do well.
- I do better when I lead.
- I do better when it’s a tough course.
- I do better in cold/hot/wet/dry (you name the conditions).
- I don’t do well on wet surfaces.
- I don’t do well on courses with lots of turns.
- I don’t do well performing on the road.
- I don’t do well on loop courses.
On one hand it is good to know your strengths. On the other hand, it opens the door to mental game weaknesses. And here is why.
Anytime your self talk, self labels and self descriptions indicate that you can only do your best under certain conditions then by default it also defines when you believe that you do not do well. This becomes an expectation (consciously or subconsciously) about your ability to perform.
The goal is to be able to do your best regardless of the conditions or situation. Let’s be clear, doing your “best” doesn’t mean setting personal records. It means you give 100% from start to finish regardless of the situation. You do not let the circumstances seep into your psyche and adversely effect your performance – promoting that possibility of a let down or anything less than a 100% effort sans doubts.
What we tell ourselves (even if never spoken to others) is powerful. Often these things become self-fulfilling prophecies. Countering these beliefs starts in training. You must integrate mental and physical training. Address your weaknesses by doing what you don’t do well in practice. If you don’t like loop courses and you know your big race is on a loop course then practice running on a loop course. While doing this, rehearse your mental game plan (what do you tell yourself on loop #1, #2…; what specifically do you do to stay fully in the moment and not thinking of multiple loops; how do you mentally break up the course into chunks to handle it best).
Need help attacking your limiting beliefs? Why continue to limit your performance potential? Drop me a line. It only takes 2-3 sessions – we’ll master it!