One of the techniques from sports psychology consists in using self talk to predispose us to perform better. It is normal from time to time for negative phrases to arise when we are tired, or when we feel pressure. Long distance runners, for instance, use different sentences or keywords to manage their negative self-dialogue and favor better performance at different stages of the race:
• At the beginning they use phrases to motivate themselves not to go too fast, to be able to save energy for the rest of the race and strengthen their confidence.
• During the middle of the race their self-dialogue communicates an encouragement to move forward and stay focused.
• Finally, for the last kilometers they use keywords to control their intensity and give their maximum effort.
The phrases you could use are very personal so it is more effective to choose the ones that really make you feel comfortable. You can also try different ways to formulate the sentences. Many athletes use the second person to distance themselves from the situation and have more clarity, for example: ‘you can’, although others prefer the first person, e.g., ‘I can’. There are even runners who prefer to mentally sing a song to maintain a specific rhythm or to manage distractions.
In the following table I show examples of phrases for the different stages of the race:
|Before the race||Beginning||Middle||End||After the race|
|I am ready||Steady||You are going really good||Light and fast||You have done really well|
|I am going to make it||Calm||I love running||Power legs||Well done runner|
|I have done all the training so that is why I know I am capable||Keep smiling||I love running up the hills||Steady steps||You’ve made it!|
|I feel alive when it rains||Come on one more kilometer||You are going as fast as the wind|
|Keep the rhythm||Just a little bit more|
|Come on, keep running||Last bit to go|
|Posture||You can do it|
Photograph by Filip Mroz on Unsplash