I had the pleasure of recently delivering a workshop to help the RISE UK runners prepare mentally for the Brighton Half Marathon in February 2014. This workshop was held at the Studio57 Clinic in Hove. Studio57 also support RISE by providing the premises and the workshop to help the runners physically prepare.
RISE UK is a local domestic abuse charity that I have supported for several years. I provide support to their runners by delivering workshops and individual coaching sessions, This helps the runners build their confidence that they can achieve a goal which previously they thought would have been extremely challenging, such as running a half marathon.
We started the workshop by talking about the difference between mental effort and physical effort to complete something like a half marathon. Most participants thought there was an 80/20 split between physical and mental effort; with 80% for the physical effort. While in actual fact, it is 80% for the mental effort!
We then did an exercise whereby participants held their arm out to the side and repeated negative type of word such as I’m weak, this is hard, I can’t do this. While they were repeating these negative types of works, which are often the thoughts we have, another workshop participant tried to push down their arm. What most experienced was they were unable to resist and we in fact quite weak. They then switched to positive type of words such as I am strong, I am powerful, I can do this and I am doing this and continued to resist. They experienced a marked difference in strength when they repeated these positive words.
This very literal difference in their strength when they repeated negative type of words and positive type of words clearly had an effect on the participants when they realized how powerful their thoughts were on their physical body! I therefore encouraged them to take some time to develop their mental skills, monitor their thoughts and develop strategies to ensure they remain positive, strong and powerful!
We then proceeded to discuss goal setting and the importance of getting clear on what it was they wanted to achieve. Writing out SMART goals was of course discussed, as was the importance of having several ‘process’ type of goals rather than focusing solely on ‘outcome’ goals.
Process goal as those goals whereby the person does have some control and influence over. Process goals include such things as running at a steady pace, maintaining their focus on their plan rather than getting swept away, monitoring their internal dialogue and ensuring it remains positive and support. More process goals might include following a reasonable training plan and managing their nutritional intake.
Outcome goals on the other hand are outside a person’s control. These type of goals include the time they will run the race in (because weather might have an impact) and where they place overall (because other competitors might turn up on the day and be better than them). Participants were encouraged to avoid these types of goals because they did not have complete control on whether the goal was achieved or not.
Additionally, the idea of setting several goals means that participants are more likely to be able to ‘tick the box of success’ to say they have achieved some, if not all, of their goals. Whereas by having only one goal, there is only one chance to succeed or fail. Ideally, giving yourself more chances to success or say that ‘yes, I’ve achieved that goal’ means the overall experience will be more positive. And, when the overall experience is more positive, then they will more likely want to do it again!
Following on from the discussion of goal setting, we touched on motivation. The reasons ‘why’ we do what we set out to do will have a significant impact on keeping on going. Clearly outlining all those reasons ‘why’ and then posting them prominently around your home will help provide the incentive to get out the door and do the necessary training on those cold, dark or wet nights. Additionally, during the race, those reasons ‘why’ will help carry you through to the end!
When looking at motivation, some of the key questions that help clarify those reasons why include:
- What will it mean to achieve the goals? What is its significance? What will happen when I get it? How will it look? How will it feel? What will I see and hear?
- How will achieving this goal affect other aspects of my lie?
- In what way is the outcome worth the time, effort and energy?
- What are the benefits, to all areas of my life, once I achieve my goal?
We then touched on people fears about actually being able to complete the half-marathon distance. Fears can simply be viewed as False Evidence Appearing Real. So, by examining the fears in a more objective manner, it is easier to either let them go or to discard them completely. Sometimes by re-framing the fears will help. The fear of ‘not being able to do it’ was a common fear and the participants were reassured that if they followed a structured training programme and dealt with any niggles before they turned into big problems in the body, they evidence shows that they will likely be able to ‘do it’ on the day!
Sometimes runners worry about how they will perform on the day if the weather is really bad. The fear of the wet, the wind and the cold can impact on performance abilities. Yet, the reassuring thought that everyone else is experiencing the same thing can help. By looking at all the individual fears and examining they to evaluate whether there is any real evidence or basis of truth is the first step in overcoming them.
The session concluded with an offer to provide individual coaching sessions to the RISE runners to help them clarify their goals and their reasons ‘why’ as well as explore any of their fears. They were invited to get in touch. Even if you did not attend the workshop, and are a RISE runner, please feel free to get in touch to discuss getting your head around doing the challenge you have set yourself to do!
I also referred the runners to my Winning Strategies for Sports and Life book which goes into more detail about what we had covered in the session.