Thank you Linda Dupont for recently asking one of my favorite questions…
New racers and veterans alike all understand the overwhelming spectrum of emotions that can take hold of you during an obstacle course race. Let’s be real…it can happen in a matter of seconds and it can change or derail your mission. Obstacles in fact are meant to stand in our way, right? It’s true, and they are not just the physical obstacles that you face on course. Those, you can attempt…maybe ensue some type of penalty for non-completion (depending on your race/class) then move on…others though and what I would consider far more powerful are the obstacles you face internally when fear, anxiousness and or excitement appear. These internal obstacles elicit a physiological “Fight or Flight” response. SHI*! RUN! HIDE!
It’s happened to me many times. One example was in December of 2017. It was the Spartan Race Ultra championship in Reykjavik, Iceland where my purpose of travel was to coach Team Army through their 24hr journey of completing as many laps (miles) as possible. While on site, I had the opportunity to participate in the Sprint, completing one lap of the 6.8 (ish) mile course. If you haven’t seen the conditions of that race, take a look a look HERE. Temps were in the 20’s, freezing rain was directed sideways by the 40+ mile an hour winds, and the ground conditions presented snow, ice, water, mud, elevation and uneven terrain. IT WAS INSANE. I remember being around three quarters of the way through, when the daylight started to weaken. (this is the time of year when there is only around 4 hours of daylight) I had reached the top of the tallest climb and was about to descend. My feet and hands were frozen…I had fallen to the ice multiple times, had multiple abrasions that were starting to be felt due to the initial adrenaline fading away…and my ski goggles that were initially protection from the freezing rain were now blinding me with a layer of ice that formed on the lens. Negative psychobabble began plaguing my mind. “Your tired, incapable and weak. It’s time to stop!”
I WANTED TO QUIT. But I didn’t. I didn’t quit because I was able to remove those deceptive brain messages and false beliefs.
Well, some people can persevere with self-talk… a simple “STFU” or “get over it”. The vast majority however need a strategy to recognize when and why these deceptions are happening.
This is where proven methods such as the Four R’s explained in the book, “You Are Not Your Brain” are extremely helpful. We, at my partner company, SATAURA use a similar method called The C.O.R.E. Method. This method can quite literally help to re-wire your brain! You’ll learn a little more about this in just a moment.
Before I start…here’s a little fact…human beings have 12,000-60,000 thoughts per day. 95% of those thoughts are recycled and 80% are negative. *
That’s A LOT of opportunities for a simple little thought to take you away from your mission.
That being said…this is especially important. BEFORE you get on that racecourse, SET YOUR INTENTION and envision it many times over. Intentions – and our beliefs - are everything. The best athletes in the world practice visualization. They “see/feel” themselves winning (and this, of course, is different for everyone). Like training for a race, or lifting weights, they train their brains, too. These visualizations get “programmed into” their subconscious; and subsequently the subconscious automatically starts to believe it’s already true. Another little factoid is that the body does not know the difference between something vividly imagined and a ‘real’ event. So, you are literally teaching your body and mind how to perform/react before the actual event. So now it KNOWS what to do ahead of time (including releasing fear or channeling it into an asset).
So an intention is set…CROSS THAT FINISH LINE, right?!
On course, when you reach that place of doubt…get to the C.O.R.E of what’s going on…
Capture: Become hyperaware of what is happening and when it’s happening. FEAR can be a conditioned response to anything that can trigger the fight or flight response. It is our “perception” of the situation that creates the fear, not the fear itself. Why would one person feel excited to do a race and another person become paralyzed with fear? It’s in the mindset and belief. This is where awareness is key. We can’t change anything that we aren’t conscious of. The act of getting conscious of the belief and “naming it” can have profound effects on our nervous system – and its balance. *
Observe: Recognize and observe “how” this thought is feeling in the body and what it is actually doing to you physically and emotionally. Notice the effect that is has on the body. *
Reset: Once you have “Captured” and “Observed” the negative, conditioned response, you can start to RESET the mind and nervous system. Through intention, visualization, and breath-work (stay tuned for this in a future blog); you will help to enlist the “parasympathetic nervous system” (i.e. rest – digest – recover). This can quite literally bring your brain back on line, calm your nervous system and allow for you to perform at your highest potential. *
Evolve: By practicing and implementing “The C.O.R.E. Method” you will continue to EVOLVE to your highest potential. *
THAT’S IT GUYS! Remember your intention and use the C.O.R.E strategy…take a quick moment to remember that YOUR NORMAL for feeling the way that you felt! Then smile, breathe and…
Happy racing, my friends.
NASM Certified Personal Trainer *NASM Youth Exercise Specialist * Spartan Obstacle Specialist CrossFit Level 1 & 2 – Level 3 reading * CrossFit Gymnastics * Mobility WOD 101 & 102 POSE Run Method * Mobility WOD Performance Specialist * Spartan SGX Coach *TRX * USA Weightlifting
*Contribution by Beverly Holcomb Co-Founder; SATAURA