The best athletes in the world have a secret weapon, no it’s not their massive physiological values, their super high end gear or even their superior genetics…it’s their ability to wheel and deal on the fly when it feels like the walls are caving in and there is no way they can keep going. When it feels like they can no longer hold a certain pace, power or effort the best athletes don’t give up they instead negotiate with themselves – you might even say they tell themselves little lies that over time become big truths. These athletes have mastered the art of self-negotiation and re-negotiation and if you can do that yourself, you’ll find you are hitting stronger sessions, nailing some PR’s and beating rivals!

Self-negotiation is simply the act of moving the aim of your focus from the full frame of your race, session or interval to a small, tangible and presently achievable aim. And of course as soon as you achieve that aim, you gain some confidence from it, followed by some positive self-talk and from there you renegotiate with yourself for the next aim – before you  know it you are chipping away at that race, session or interval stronger, faster and more in control than ever before.

To be successful in your self-negotiating you must be and stay present. While this is important in all aspects of performance it’s critical that you stay present and mindful when you are incorporating self-negotiation into the process. If the mind is allowed to wander to the enormity of the entire event (the full Ironman, the entire Marathon, etc…) which it will and then stay there – you’ve lost the ability to stay in the present, you’ve projected the entire event into the small space of the right now, it cannot fit in  that space and will lead to fear, uncertainty and doubt about what you can achieve. As an athlete it’s OK if the mind moves briefly to the entire event – you are suffering at mile 12 of the marathon and do the quick math that reminds you you have another 14mi to go – the problem becomes when you invest all of your precious emotional capital into what’s ahead you leave your present bankrupt. Self-negotiation demands that you bring it back, stay in the present or the near present and move that aim to something that is immediately achievable – acknowledge that your mind moved beyond the present, again that’s OK and you cannot get upset that your mind went there, however it is imperative that you bring the focus back to the now by defining an immediate aim for your focus and execute to that.

As you begin to be conscious of your mindfulness and ability to stay present you can now self-negotiate and re-negotiate. When you are suffering and feeling like there’s no way you can finish that interval or that race move your aim to the present or near present and make that deal with yourself – tell yourself just get to that mile marker, just get to that mailbox, just make it up this hill, just go another 90sec and then you’ll deal with whatever is after that then…when you get there you take that hit of achievement and the confidence and positive self-talk that comes with it to redirect your aim to the next small goal – you’ve effectively re-negotiated for the present and can now pursue that next aim, this behavior repeats itself through the entire event and before you know it you’ve just achieved more than you ever though you could!

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