Self Talk

What do you say to yourself during training? How about in races? How about when the weather is crappy, you have a flat tire, and the car going by just threw their thirsty-two ounce drink at you? Are you smiling? Are you ready to kill? Are you grateful that nothing worse has happened?

Our self talk has always interested me. Most people spend more time fighting themselves, their own internal battles, then they do the course, or if they’re lucky enough to be competing for position, then they do their competitors. I’m not sure why we do this. It could be we’ve heard “no” millions of times more than we’ve heard the word “yes” in our lives. It could be the way we are programed in other ways, by parents, siblings, community, etc. It could be something else.

We could spend hours on a couch trying to figure out who to blame for this unproductive self talk or just work on reprograming ourselves right now, saving a lot of time and money.

Reprograming yourself isn’t really that difficult. You just get a phrase you say and say it over and over again. This phrase can be really corny if you want. It might even be better if it is, because it will make you laugh or at least smile when saying or thinking it. When you notice you’re starting to doubt yourself, hopefully that phrase will come to mind and revert you back to the more positive productive internal dialogue. That’s actually the first step, noticing your destructive self talk. Once you notice it, it’s easier to change it.

Change won’t come over night, but what worthwhile is that easy? I love this saying. I also love things that are easy. Who doesn’t. And some things worthwhile may in fact be easy for you, but not easy in general for most other people. But, as usual, I’m getting off topic here a bit.

What do we do about this destructive self talk? First, we recognize it. Second, we accept it, that it will happen, and embraced the knowledge that it will pass. Third, we work on limiting it and it’s effectiveness.

Sounds pretty simple, and it is. The idea is simple. It’s implementation is the hard part. You have to want to. Like so many things, you have to want to – and then work really really hard and consistently to make it happen.

When I was competing, I had some good and some not so good days with the constant internal dialogue going on. The interesting thing was my place in the race didn’t really affect it. I remember leading and being completely negative, “This is my last race. I hate this.” Fortunately I was pretty good at managing it, and recognizing that when it started there was a reason. Dehydration was the downer for me, get a little dry and my attitude was shot – have a drink of water, and all was rosy again.

Learn what your triggers are and that can help you have more fun and success in this sport.

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