You know those new running shoes that you bought? How long did you think about them? Did you see yourself running in them? Perhaps you even thought about whether they will match your favorite run outfit? What were the questions you asked, yourself, the salesperson, or the other Amazon buyers? What were you hoping to get out of them? And honestly, hand on heart. Did you not secretly hope that those shoes will make you a faster runner?
Hi, my name is Heiko and thanks for joining me on Advanced Endurance Coaching, where we are all about improving the 40+ runner’s mind especially if you are a coach and would like to be able to reach more runners’. It’s here where I want to share you with you my passion for training and developing mental skills, whether you are a runner looking to develop consistency, or you want to go for a new personal record, this is the place for you and if you are a bit skeptical because of the word MENTAL, and don’t know too much about self-hypnosis hang in there as there might just be that nugget, that missing link, that you have been searching for.
So back to them fancy shoes you bought and the time you spent wondering about them. There are so many different shoes to choose from, and readers you know this, at the end of the day they all serve the same purpose. How do you decide, and what makes you dive into all those questions?
Aaah if you decide like I do: I try to buy the same pair twice, then I don’t need to think too much. OK. Your thinking time will come once that make is not made anymore. Obviously, we want shoes to fit, don’t ache, have arch support, heel support, promote foot flexion, breathability, durability, affordability no this is not turning into a shoe buying blog, ha ha.
Now given that buying a pair of shoes is a pretty important issue, I agree, but most runners hardly spend even a fraction of the time developing their mental side of their training.
Same with the shoes. There is such a big selection, so much choice, so many concepts, and features. Eventually you pick the one you feel most familiar with, and this is the clue you explain and justify to yourself, why you selected exactly that pair.
If I were to visit you at home right now, and we would go to your cupboard or wherever it is you keep your running shoes. Hey, tell me why you bought that pair, you would have a reason.
Same with your attitude towards running.
In mental terms, or brain power terms, you stick with what you’ve got or what you know. And this depends of course on your personality type as well. If you are the dominant type, you have high ego strength, and will be a risk taker. That’s what your inner dialogue will help you achieve.
Compared to the runner who values steadiness, and prefers to play it safe, and achieve the predictable. And you will use reasons, and statements to ensure your self-talk is supportive of getting you to the finish line. The biggest fear of the let’s call him “complaint personality type runner” is criticism. And that’s how he or she will make decisions during a race. And if you have a high level of influence in your personality, you will be the enthusiastic one and emotions might sometimes lead you to where you don’t want to go because the words you speak to yourself will allow you to negotiate any conflict.
Same with Theories, so many psychologists have developed a theory, a concept, without explaining the use and the field of application in terms of solving an actual real problem that an athlete and in our case, a runner, might have.
But there is one specific one that I want to talk about. Martin Selgiman, because what caught my attention during my studies was that he had found a way to define optimism and increase its effect. Actually, that’s just my short version. What he did was conduct research over many years in athletes and team constellations and came to the conclusion that the stronger the optimism the better the performance. Without going all scientific here, what he realized is that we humans have the need to explain why things happen.
And look I can so agree to this every time I point out to my teenage daughters that the laundry isn’t done, there is a rather lengthy explanation as to why things didn’t happen. Ha Ha.
Means we find reasons or invent reasons, make them up really, to explain a result. It’s the attribution theory. Now as research showed this doesn’t mean that the reasons mentioned necessarily led to the obtained result, rather it reveals how an athlete explains the nature of the result.
I worked with a young runner, a talented kid, tall, slim but not skinny, and what struck me during our initial talk was a sentence: I never am able to get the time I train for in a competition. Now of course it was one of many sentences he uttered, but this one is of importance, because it is a permanent definition of a state. And there is no doubt, it is clear. Never. Competition.
So what he is doing is explaining and giving a reason for his failure to obtain a strong finish time (in this case), that he knows in training he can achieve.
According to Seligman, optimists and pessimists take on different positions in terms of success or failures. No kidding (?) I’m sorry, yes obvious isn’t it? An optimistic runner will attribute success to good factors that are permanent, general and personal. He might say things like: “I trained hard all season, and had the support of my coach”. This is then used as a reference for future scenarios. Or projected into the future.
Quite to the contrary the pessimistic runner, like the youngster I trained, will say if he won “well that was my lucky day, competition wasn’t strong today”. Plus, he will not be able to savor and enjoy the win as an optimistic runner. Nor will he develop an emotional reference point.
Reverse is also true. An optimistic runner would attribute a negative event to temporary issues, or external factors. For example, a runner who again, trained for a certain time, achieved it in training but failed to reach that time during the race might use words such as: “I wasn’t feeling well the whole day, the conditions were tough”.
Again we runners’ attribute reasons for success and failures. The great part is You, as a runner, you have a choice. Do you attribute your success to luck? That would be temporary, specific, and external. Or do you attribute it to your capability, your training. (permanent and personal).
So to summarize, as an optimistic runner I am inclined to attribute my success to factors that are personal and permanent.
For example, my first Comrades marathon readers I want to be brutally honest here. I was so disappointed crossing the finish line and glancing at the time. Why? Well, I had trained for a 9:30 finish. (Worst case, and I am too shy to tell you my best case dream time).
Now I took much longer, and that really disturbed me. Now I am not saying this for pity, “aaaaargh but Heiko, that’s still a good time etc.”. No I am saying it, because I usually am very good at predicting my race times. And I felt failure. Many reasons, of course.. .and here is the difference pay attention. I hadn’t gotten enough rest the days before, the 15 hour flight, the hanging out with my best friends since childhood.
There are better ways to spend your two days before a 90K race. Important is that I immediately knew that I had more in me. Better time, better abilities, and that this was a slip. Nothing else. Ah, and let me point out that the days in Durban after the Comrades, there is no time to walk around with a long face. There are so many runners, at the shopping malls, beach, restaurants, wherever you go.
As an optimistic runner I expect success and be able to define his reasons clearly, and project them into the future. So of course, I set out to plan my down run for the following year. And for extra bonus, going for the back to back medal. But that is another story.
Just compare this to: The pessimistic runner defines success for external reasons. And usually ends up feeling that this is personal and a permanent issue. And there were many of those crossing the finish line too, and in the various internet forums. But you all have heard and maybe experienced the self-fulfilling prophecy.
Now for you as a runner, or as a coach: You identify the optimistic or pessimistic attitudes as follows. Just ask about an event that was a success. Means where the runners trained for a certain time, and reached it during the race. Does the runner attribute it to temporary and specific circumstances? Stating some external factors? This would point towards the runner being pessimistic. If the runner explains that the race result came from permanent and personal factors, you are most certainly dealing with a positive inclined runner.
Don’t get confused, I am not judging, nor am I telling you that being an optimistic runner is the way to go. I recall Tony Robbins saying if that were the case you can just go and stand in your garden shouting: no weeds , now weeds lol guess it’s not going to work, is it? Same with your running. If you have not trained on hills. You have been running on a smooth level pavement without any incline for the past 2 months, standing on the start line of a trail run shouting “I can do it” is not the most effective method.
Only being optimistic will lead you to suffer even a greater setback and it will take you a lot longer to get out of it. It is not a healthy, balanced attitude. Being occasionally pessimistic is one of the best ways to find your faults, your weak areas.
As with running it requires a balance. A healthy one.
Now let me explain how to spot, catch and avoid destructive-pessimistic thoughts, to doubt the incorrect pessimistic ones, and strengthen the optimistic thoughts. This is done in the subconscious part of the brain. Yup, here we are, 10 minutes into the blog and we are addressing the core of the issue.
The subconscious is there where you can make changes without meeting big resistance. readers if you have that pessimistic mindset, it has gotten you this far hasn’t it? I mean it cannot all be wrong. Yes, you are correct, and no one said it is all wrong. What we set out to do in our coaching is help you become a better, smarter, stronger runner remember? And we are looking for areas to improve. So even if the first reaction is “but this helped me so long”, just imagine you are at an all you can eat buffet. I am just inviting you to try and taste. See what you like, what fits or suits you, and then you take as much or as little as you can handle.
Now back to the athlete who uses general personal accountability, to describe his or her performance. Is the runner often using pessimistic words and descriptions? Ok, yes definitely.
First off I want to talk about a powerful tool that you have heard of: The ABCDE Model is a simple mnemonic developed by Albert Ellis in the field of rational-emotive behavior therapy, that helps people mentally work through a reflection process to consider if they want or need to change their thinking and therefore their behavior around some emotions.
It’s quick and even if you haven’t tried something like this before, remember All you can eat buffet. Try it and take as much as you like from whatever you want
A: Activating Event (failed to run a given time in a race). It might be a DNF
B: Belief (I am never able to run a strong competition). Especially if it’s a big race and you trained for it, prepared for it like never before.
C: Consequence (the belief has led to a consequence, with rational beliefs leading to healthy consequences and irrational beliefs leading to unhealthy consequences) .
D: Disputation (if one has held an irrational belief which has caused unhealthy consequences, they must dispute that belief and turn it into a rational belief)
E: New Effect (the disputation has turned the irrational belief into a rational belief, and the person now has healthier consequences of their belief as a result)
If you are like me I sometimes don’t like the voice of the person’s voice who is speaking to me. Ever had that? Just last week I had a phone call usually I check the number on the display whether it’s a friend or customer, but I didn’t and too late, one of those sales calls. You know the one, really hard nut, “well you do want to save money do you not?”.
And honestly YES I want to save money but I would gladly pay to get rid of this person RIGHT now. It was his voice. Just didn’t like it. I can’t explain it, I don’t need to didn’t fit.
Now just imagine if this happens during an ABCDE session. You don’t like the person’s voice. It is not going to work. And most of the free stuff on youtube first off it’s not created by people dedicated to running, nor are they run coaches, and many don’t seem to have any knowledge or certification to be doing such recordings.
So here is a suggestion, readers stay loyal try our podcast and just develop a feel for the content. And I would suggest learning to create your own scripts. Actually that will ensure there is no barrier to use it, nothing that will even cause the slightest hint of irritation. You can learn how to create your goal setting scripts, overcome those negative thoughts, and build intrinsic motivation. Best is after this blog you go to resetrun.com and read through the content heikostribl.com.
Find more tips like this on resetrun.com or in our online mental running tool course. An in-depth 4 hour video course, along with an easy-to-read guide to understanding mental techniques for runners’ in depth. It comes, along with our R.E.S.E.T.® branded coaching certification.
My name is Heiko! Thanks for reading and remember: take it easy.