What is a moment? We tend to place a lot of stock into important “moments in time,” but outside of meaningful memories, what is a moment? As it pertains to time, a moment is around 3 seconds in length. A lot can happen in 3 seconds: a race is won or lost, a pace begins to faulter, an athlete loses confidence…
In each of our 24-hour days, we have 28,800 moments (if we don’t sleep). What we say to ourselves in these moments can have an incredible impact on our performance. On average, humans speak to themselves between 300-1,000 words a minute. We think and ruminate a lot- so much though that we pull ourselves from now, this moment.
As an athlete begins to train and compete, the mental focus is less on technique and pace and more on outcomes and the desire to be great. We want to PR, win, help the team. The moment we feel we are not performing to our capabilities, we begin to doubt ourselves. The words start to become negative and ineffective to our performances. In a moment’s time, in 3 seconds, we can make or break our commitment to the pace, to the plan, to the team by simply saying “I can’t” or “I don’t have it today.”
A lot of people put stock into having “positive” self-talk versus “negative” self-talk, but I think this is too simplistic. I know I am guilty of saying to myself “You idiot, get him.” But this helped me be competitive and stay in the race. I’d like people to start to think less about positive and negative and more about effective and ineffective.
In developing self-talk, Robin Vealey- a sport psychology professor at Miami of Ohio- recommends that athletes follow the 3 P’s or “P3 thinking.” Is what I am saying to myself:
- 1. Purposeful- is this statement rehearsed?
- 2. Productive- is it helping my performance?
- 3. Possibility- is this statement giving me a chance to be successful?
Notice how positive is not a “P.” When I work with athletes, I encourage them to follow these P3 criteria and I have them envision scenarios such as “falling off pace,” “getting passed by someone you generally beat,” and “feeling tired and weak” and I encourage them to prepare a response they can go to that will help them re-engage the race or workout and talk themselves to success. Practicing these statements are crucial to making them automatic for the race and to helping an athlete succeed. In the three seconds it takes to complete your statement, it could save your race and create a moment you want to remember.
For ideas of motivating statements or mantras, check out this thread from the Brooks Run community
Be well and RUN HAPPY.