Kinetic Motion - Blog

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Q: I run okay but I'm not really sure about the bike or the swim and wonder if this is the right sport for me?
A: The ability to do well at triathlon -- or anything else in life, for that matter -- begins not in your arms or your legs or your heart. It begins in your head. People will tell you to "stop thinking negative thoughts." That's bad advice because it's nearly impossible. You can't shut your brain down. It's working even when you're asleep. Instead, you have to see those negative vibes coming and stop them before they become full thoughts. You do that by blocking them with positive thinking and affirmation. And you have to repeat those affirmations over and over again. Bobby McGee, who has coached Olympians, gives a great talk on sports psychology in which he says that a positive affirmation has to be repeated 1,000 times before it takes hold, so don't think that you can kill off negative thinking by nipping it in the bud once or twice. You have to keep hammering at it. And -- this is an essential part of mental training -- stop talking to yourself in the second person. If you say "Come on, you can do it," or "You can't quit now" you separate yourself from the message. You allow youself to have a self-defeating argument in your head. ("You can do it" ... "No, I can't" ... "Yes, you can" ...) You give yourself an out, so that when you quit the little voice that won the debate can say, "I told you so." Put all of your thoughts, particularly during a race, into the first-person, present tense, and make sure those thoughts are positive. "I am feeling strong," "I am moving smoothly," "I'm going to work through the stitch in my side," "I'm already 1,000 yards into the swim." Self-doubt is self-defeating, in sport as in life.

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