As you approach your key races of the year, you are getting fitter and stronger with each key workout. All the accumulation of training is beginning to make a positive impact on your health….don’t forget to train the most import tool in the tool box… that bit between your ears.
A good friend put me onto a great book last year titled “The Inner Game of Tennis” by Timothy Gallwey. I read the book just before Buffalo Springs Texas 70.3 2013. My goal was to make it back to Kona, and to qualify for Worlds I had to win my age group. No pressure eh! As a student of my sport I’m always learning from others, learning from past mistakes, trying to gain an understanding of what makes me tick! The book literally flicked a switch in my mental game as I approached my key race of the year. Here is a summary of what I learned from reading the book.
Every game is composed of two parts, an outer game and an inner game.” The former is played against opponents, and is filled with lots of contradictory advice; the latter is played not against, but within the mind of the player, and its principal obstacles are self-doubt and anxiety. I began to watch my own mental cues like a hawk in each training session leading up to my qualifier. Most of my mental images drifted to messages someone else had given me. “You’re not good enough… You’re too skinny for this time of year… You could fail in this attempt and everyone in the club will think you’re not that good… You’ve spent all this money on travel, and accommodation…what if you fail.”
I began to realize that all these messages were someone else’s voice or, worse yet fear’s voice….I had learned them and made them my own. I needed to stop that immediately and let go of judging myself. And just be.
Trust your body. Your muscles remember, they contract and expand as you move through time and space. Tune into what the experience feels like and let it be.
Quiet your mind. One of the main purposes of the Inner Game approach is to increase awareness of what is. If you want to change your performance – or your life – the Inner Game approach suggests that as a first step you don’t try to change it, but simply increase your awareness of what is.
Practice non-judgment. Judging one’s performance is slowing or even stopping the growth and learning. But even more devastating is judging one’s self. The player who decides that he/she isn’t any good will soon be playing that way. But there is actually no connection between our performance and our “selves”.
So off I went to Texas 70.3 with a new found mental approach to racing. The outcome didn’t matter…I was already a winner, already good enough. I remember thinking before the gun went off, “Look at me! How awesome is this! I’m going to have a blast letting my mind/body connect and letting the performance happen.”
The result, 1st place Kona Qualifier….(and I ended up in the medical tent with 2 nurses from Texas Tech with 2 IV’s. Not bad!)
I’m proud of you! Keep on keepin’ on!
Leroy Thomas, Kain Performance Coach