Mind-Body Connection - Page 3
Steve DeKoker, an avid runner and head of Brooks Sport’s Inspire Daily program in Seattle, Washington, breaks a race down. “Focus on small goals within a race or long run,” he says. “ I compartmentalize my mental anxiety into segments, and then 26.2 miles, for example, is only 26 individual miles, eight 5Ks or two sets of 13.1-milers.”
Do not make something as familiar as a race become an anxiety source. Adds elite mountain runner Alex Nichols, 26, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, “During races I try to only think about being relaxed and fast. As soon as I start to worry I lose running efficiency. I run my best races when I run relaxed.”
Mistake #4: Using negative words for motivation
Don’t stop. I can’t get passed. While self talk is important during a race, negative words may trigger performance-harming emotions. For example, telling yourself “Don’t stop” might bring attention to your fatigue.
According to a 2000 study comparing negative and positive self talk with tennis players, Dr. Judy Van Raalte and colleagues at Springfield College in Massachusetts, found that negative self talk often stems from mistakes during a poor performance and can inhibit later performances. We’ve all had bad races. And, if we’re not careful, we can let them get in the way of a potentially excellent performance.
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD. Shift focus away from negative (pressure) words or phrases such as don’t, won’t or have to. Use positive words like calm and cool or strong and smooth.
Dr. Janet Shaw, an ultrarunner and exercise physiologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City envisioned herself deflecting negativity during a rough patch in her first 100-mile race. “I envisioned Wonder Woman using her bracelets to deflect bullets. But instead of bullets, I deflected my negative thoughts,” she says.
Stephen Gonzalez, M.S., of Salt Lake City, is a sports psychology consultant (www.elitemindsetconsulting.com) and former NCAA Division I runner.