Listening to your body makes a lot of sense. Pregnant mums- to -be have cravings, often associated with deficiencies in their diet. When our bodies need water, we experience the feeling of thirst. Listening to your body can help keep you out of trouble, especially in long distance events. Ignore the thirst voice, and you could end up a shrivelled prune. Ignore the painful knee, you may become lame. Almost instinctively, we listen to our body and its demands.
But over the years, I developed the ability to make my body listen to me. I do not mean the words grunted out of our mouths in desperate situations but rather, the silent, mind contained self-talk we are barely aware of. Perhaps this sounds strange at first. But what is determination, what is will power? You talking to your body.
Like any kind of speech, there are degrees of effectiveness in talking to your body, there are ways of making yourself heard and understood. Take the unruly class at school; one teacher achieves order with a few spoken words, another fails, even when shouting. I believe the successful teacher has told himself that children will listen to him so many times that it has become an innate part of his self talk. He does not need to remind himself of this, because his mind has been programmed by his repeated self-talk. His continued success affirms his self talk, which supports continued success.
Winners have an early advantage over other competitors; they have told themselves they will win over and again, so much that their body believes them. Every win just adds weight to the words. Eventually, the strength of the words goes subliminal, the winner “knows” he will win, without consciously saying or thinking a word. At a more day to day level, the success of the training run depends on our sub-conscious; what are the messages you have been feeding yourself lately? Are you struggling, and have you been stressing about this? If you have, welcome to continued failure. Or are you doing well, and have you been praising yourself, are you confident? If so, you have a head start. You expect success, your mind has been programmed to expect success, that’s what you will likely get.
Of course, you sometimes have to tell yourself little white lies. Most of my bad training runs are interpreted as good, because of a range of convenient excuses eg; I trained hard yesterday, today was good considering this. I did well to put so much effort in to this run. This self-deceit is justified, because it maintains your self-confidence and therefore your motivation. Even a bad run can help your confidence, if you see it as a lesson in suffering. I have trained badly all week becomes I have trained hard all week.
When the winner does not win, the effort made in this race will help him towards victory in the next race.
When the going gets hard, it’s communication at this sub-conscious level that is all important. The will to continue is supported by a silent narrative that you have generated over many hard miles. You still have to concentrate, you still have to be well motivated and determined. But the support of the silent narrative gives added strength to your conscious effort. It is the foundation, the bedrock, of your determination and your motivation.
So think “win”, think “achieve”, think “can”. Think anything other than “can’t”.