Okay, a slightly random topic but hopefully it will come together....crossing fingers......
Over 15 years ago (before my triathlon days) I traveled to Belo Horizonte, Brazil as a missionary. It was a tremendous experience and a genuine education on many levels that continues teaching to this day. In the many conversations with the locals, one curious question frequently got asked: Who can be a prophet?
Without getting all theological on you, the general interpretation of a prophet for that area was someone who, for a lack of a better term, predicted the future. The common line of thinking was: "anyone." Some even believed they already possessed that life-calling. As I've thought about this question, I have to agree....not entirely, but in some ways. In a non-theological sense, we are all prophets.
Let me explain. Let's think about some common metaphors that get tossed around the sports-world.
So what does this have to do with triathlon?
It's commonly referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. You will succumb to your way of dominant thinking. If you hit the start line thinking you'll be last in your age group, your swim will be a disaster, you'll be lucky to get out of T1 in 2 minutes, etc., then your negative-dominating thoughts will win out. While you may not end up last in your age group, you will battle that little voice over and over again throughout the race. And at the first possible fork in the road, you will likely cave to the pressure and find yourself living out your "prophecy." It actually sounds scary just to type it out.
The opposite end of that is positive thinking. Positive self-talk and visualization is key to your success in practice and on the race course. You're going to have challenges on the race course, things you couldn't predict or plan for. So, when you hit the start line, envision the challenges you will face and think of how you will conquer them. Yes, you're likely to take a kick to the face in the mass swim start. So, what do you do? You're going to deflate the guys tires next time you see him...okay, just seeing if you're still with me. You're going to attempt to move laterally and get out of the way without breaking stride. Somebody stole the race buoys the night before the race so there's none on the courese? (true story) Fog came in, all the swim caps are red, and so are the buoy markers so you don't know if you're swimming towards the buoys or another lost swimmer????(true story, too) Yes, you're going to suffer during the 5k run because it's a sprint, right? So, how do you plan to face the challenge? You remember your preparation. You tell yourself you can suffer with the best of them for 3 short miles. You envision yourself gutting it out and hitting that finish line with nothing in the tank and happy you did it.
So, be a prophet. Predict your future and "make your own breaks!"
Part 2 to be continued...will address state and trait anxiety and task relevant cues...stay tuned
Scott Flynn, owner, coach and triathlete of 10+ years with Threshold Multisport Coaching, holds a MS in Exercise Science and multiple nationally recognized fitness certifications (CES, CSCS). For more about Threshold coaching packages click here.