What does your brain tell you when you are training or racing? What does this internal coach say to you? Would you hire that coach, pay him/her money to say those things to you? Or is it a destructive voice, one to silence, to fire?
You train your body, are you training your mind?
I do most of my training and obviously all of my racing alone, so the coach I spend the most time with is ME. While I have a generally positive outlook, I have had to do some work on my own internal coach and have become aware of an evolution, a maturation, through the last four years.
Things have broken down at times. I can clearly remember several training runs, a swim, and a race where my thoughts turned toxic, bringing a torrent of pessimism and self-doubt. Last fall was my most recent episode. I finished a moderately long marathon training run in tears because I was off pace for a tempo section -- a pace that I (not my Coach) had set and defined as "success". What scared me more than being a little slower than I wanted, was how I reacted and the flood of negativity that my own head was capable of producing. I fired off a text message of disproportionate despair to my Coach and was left with a feeling of defeat that stayed with me for days. After that, I decided that I could not let my thoughts get away from me like that ever again. It's too damaging and costly.
Now, as I train and race, I spend as much time checking in on my internal dialog as I do checking in on my form, effort, and technique. A great antidote to negativity is gratitude. I might "grump" here and there but I remain keenly aware that I am fortunate to swim/bike/run. My history of injuries means I don't take these opportunities for granted.
I am enjoying the sport more than ever and I know the key to longevity is maintaining positivity, fun and playfulness. I cling to that and avoid threats to it. For instance, people react differently to pre-race stress and I gravitate to those whose pre-race chatter reflects confidence, good-natured competitiveness, and maybe even some bravado. The down-trodden and defeatist attitude is not beneficial for anyone and I won't engage in that kind of discussion. Sadly, it seems women are more prone to that.
I have a great role model in Coach Jim as he provides honest feedback and perspective and puts a quick stop to counter-productive dialog. Similarly, my internal coach has learned to set high standards and demand effort, but she's honest, patient, encouraging, positive....and just a little silly.
I would hire my own "internal coach." Would you?