Are we being lied to?
In almost every workout, or race we meet both physical and mental obstacles on our path to success. Fatigue, self-doubt, and mental exhaustion eat away at our confidence and threatens our progress forward. We've all felt that at some point, the brain is sneaky it starts slightly mentioning a niggle in your knee. if you don't listen to that, your brain decides it going to start sending self-doubt, anger, and frustration at you just to make you stop. Let’s dive into the deceptive nature of our thoughts, the importance of trusting your training, and more importantly ourselves with some practical strategies to overcome mental hurdles and achieve our personal goals.
Our brain is wired to protect us from harm and discomfort, it often tricks us into thinking we are at our limits when we're not. The negative aspects of our thoughts tend to stand out more prominently, making it easier to succumb to self-doubt and negative thinking. When fatigue sets in and the going gets tough, our brain sends signals of pain, doubt, and the desire to give up, we need to be able to separate fact from fiction, so that we can push through the mental barriers during our toughest days.
· Trusting your training is so important when battling the lies our brains are telling us. Throughout your training for race day, you have dedicated countless hours to building your physical and mental strength, honing your skills, assessing your data, and improving your endurance. When your mind starts telling you, "You can't", remind yourself of the progress you've made and the challenges you've overcome during training. This trust in your training also lays a solid foundation for you to push through moments of doubt and uncertainty during races or demanding workouts. Remind yourself of the workouts you found the toughest, the ones you had to dig deep for. Journalling feelings, thoughts, and moods along with your sleep and stress scores in your workout comments can help you start to see patterns being formed.
· Because our minds are wired with a negative bias we naturally tend to focus easier on negative experiences and thoughts. Reframing the negative thoughts and replacing them with positively empowered ones are crucial when your brain tells you can’t finish, instead of dwelling on thoughts of failure or inadequacy, try to consciously shift your focus to your training achievements and the times you've overcome similar obstacles, the moments when your have felt a similar feeling of self-doubt. Remind yourself of your commitment, resilience, and the hard work you've put in. The reasons why you started. Reframing negative thoughts helps strengthen your belief in your abilities, not to mention yourself.
· Mantras and visualization techniques are powerful tools for combating deceptive messages in our minds. Something I have found helps is the simplest task of writing a mantra that will bring your mind back to the positive, without even thinking. Decide what resonates with you, place it on your arm, place it in your pocket, perhaps in your race bags this helps remind you without much effort of what brings positivity to you. Create a mantra, or symbol that resonates with you and repeat it when you face moments of self-doubt. For example, "I am strong", “My brain is lying to me”, and "just keep moving".
Visualization is a powerful mental technique that I often remind athletes of during race planning, By vividly imagining and mentally rehearsing the desired outcomes, athletes can improve their focus, confidence, and overall performance.
· Mindfulness helps athletes develop a deep sense of self-awareness, allowing them to recognize and acknowledge their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in the present moment. By tuning in to their inner experiences, athletes can better understand how their minds and bodies respond to stress, challenges, and setbacks. This awareness enables them to proactively address negative thought patterns, self-doubt, and other mental barriers that hinder resiliency. Engage all five of your senses you are able to see, hear, touch, taste, and perhaps smell crucial moments where doubt may creep in.
· Drawing strength from external support can make a huge difference. By surrounding yourself with a supportive network of family, friends, coaches, or fellow athletes who understand you're why's and can provide encouragement and motivation. Sharing your struggles and receiving reassurance from those who believe in you can help counteract the lies your brain may be telling you.
Endurance is not simply about physical training, it's about recognizing and overcoming the mental game your mind is playing.. Trust your training, Trust yourself, and the people you have chosen to surround yourself with. It's time to prove to your brain that you're capable of far more than it believes!