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Friday, June 18, 2010

Just 2 HUGE requirements for Success

All you need to race exceptionally is just these 2 things
Performance in endurance sports is all about 2 critical factors:
1. How confident are you?
2. How much can you handle?
It’s kind of in your face isn’t it? I have recently written a sport psychology chapter for a training manual & just discussing what factors make up self confidence & the ability to deal with the extreme sensations that need to be managed to achieve your best possible performance took nearly 10 000 words! I guess that’s why sport psychologists will keep churning out studies & writing books, because while understanding the theory behind the psychology of endurance performance is doable & interesting, it is the application that is SO much more difficult. The very 1st review I received when I published Magical Running, my book on the mental approach to endurance events, (available at, was that it “is an easy book to read, a very hard book to do”. This fact points to the age old fact that while everybody knows sport psychology is the glue that turns training & potential into performance, it is largely paid nothing more than lip service. Often the excuse is that it takes too much time or that most feel they really don’t need to work on it, but the truth is:
That’s why it’s called a blind spot – we simply cannot see why we fail to push through. It is a somewhat universal truth that we are all afraid of being exposed & therefore unwilling to be vulnerable. It is through ownership of our limitations that we can determine whether our beliefs are just skewed perception paradigms or hold some modicum of truth. The self statement “I am not good enough”, or the question, “Am I good enough?” needs to be answered 1000s of time during the course of a race. Our biggest breakthroughs come when we take on the process of tearing down the fa├žade, which incidentally seems to us to be so well constructed, but is often so obvious to those that know us! A hint to involve others in this process of learning who we are as competitors & what we need to work on to become more fully whom we are capable of being.
Confidence is mostly sourced from effective training AND connecting that training & it’s implications with who we are being in competition. This requires insight , honesty & most of all a continuous passionate commitment to the execution of process actions in order to get it all out of ourselves on race day.
Some compelling current research seems to indicate that our point of failure is ALWAYS mental – no matter what the physical situation, the cessation of performance is always a decision to quit that is made at some level of consciousness!
Certain mental fatigue limits our performance capabilities & conversely, as the study seems to prove, it is possible to make considerable gains in performance through specific mental training.
The psychological lesson however has not changed – do what it takes to be as confident as possible – I’d define this as the belief that we can execute to our fitness & ability on race day & 2ndly, know in every fiber of our being that we are the toughest SOBs out there & that there is no circumstance that we cannot handle in such a way that it turns out to our advantage.
Come to think of it – that’s what I have been seeing out there on the world stage for 29 years – confidence & guts, deep grounding confidence & jaw dropping guts.
My wish for you all then: believe in yourself & know you have what the race asks.
Bobby McGee

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